Rufus Isaacs blueberries

May 3, 2023
Michigan blueberry research looks at biological controls of SWD

The Michigan Blueberry Commission has selected research projects at Michigan State University (MSU) to fund for the year, including a study on biological controls for spotted wing drosophila (SWD).

One project will evaluate the biocontrol potential of entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi for managing SWD. The award, for $15,000, went to Marisol Quintanilla-Tornel in MSU’s Department of Entomology.

Evaluations of two new biological control agents for SWD in blueberries also received $15,000. That award went to Rufus Isaacs in MSU’s Department of Entomology. Isaacs also received a second $15,000 award to evaluate strategies to improve blueberry pollination.

The Michigan Blueberry Commission is also funding these projects:

  • Work on challenges posed by novel stem and shoot blight pathogens, led by Timothy Miles in MSU’s Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, $15,000.
  • Evaluating Ovavesicula papillae as a biological control of Japanese beetle in blueberry farms. Ovavesicula papillae is a host-specific, microsporidian pathogen of Japanese beetle larvae and adults. The award went to David Smitley in MSU’s Department of Entomology, $3,000.
  • Research on enhancing blueberry yields using a cytokinin plant growth regulator, Josh VanderWeide in MSU’s Department of Horticulture, $15,000.

The commission also awarded VanderWeide $26,362 last fall for a two-acre blueberry planting at MSU’s Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center near Benton Harbor, Michigan. VanderWeide joined the Department of Horticulture in 2022 and this award was not through the MBC’s competitive grant program.

“Josh is a newer faculty member and the MBC is committed to supporting new researchers,” Nancy Nyquist, the commission’s executive director, said in a news release.

Photo: Michigan State University entomologists Rufus Isaacs, left, and John Wise discuss methods for controlling spotted wing drosophila on blueberries in this 2016 photo. Photo: Gary Pullano

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