The fungus that kills the processionary could be key against the velutina

The unstoppable propagation of the velutina wasp has become a real problem for Galicia. That is why research to find effective methods of struggle multiplies. The latest innovation in this field comes from the hands of two young Bachiller students. With only 17 years, Nuno Sinde and Pedro Fernndez have raised the possibility ofuse as a biocide the same fungus that attacks the pine processionary.

It all started eight months ago when they found a veloutina nest in the house of Nuno's grandparents. After verifying that they were Asian wasps, they began to consider the possibility of findinga natural and non-polluting alternativeto stand up to this invasive species. Nuno's grandfather, responsible for over twenty years of the Phytopathology section of the Forestry Research Center of Lourizn, was the first to encourage them. He gave us a bibliography on the subject and advised us to get going, says Nuno.

From there, the goal of these two young amateur researchers was to find a natural controller already present in the Galician ecosystem. We look for other pests to see how they are being controlled. We arrived at the pine processionary and saw thatthe Galician nature had put him as a parasite a fungus, the Cordyceps militaris, they explain. They wondered what would happen if they introduced that fungus into the biological cycle of the velutina. They began to experiment and saw that the Cordyceps s felt attracted by the chitin that the Asian vespas present in their exoskeleton. It opens up the possibility of using it to colonize insects.

The next step was to design traps that attract the wasp but let it come out again, once it has been infected with the fungus, sothat they themselves introduce the parasite in their nests, where will act against the larvae and also against the queens in period of lethargy.

They are the main results of a rigorous and very professional research, but carried out by two boys who still study 1 of International Baccalaureate in the International School SEK-Atlanticode Poio. They counted, that s, with the possibility ofDo your experiments in the laboratories of Hifas da Terra, a Pontevedra company that is an international reference in the world of mycology and was founded by Catalina Fernández de Ana, the mother of Nuno. I come from a family dedicated to science, so I already knew the scientific method, says this young man, who is still unclear about what he wants to do, but who considers Biology or Biomedicine as possible careers.

First prize in Galiciencia

What began as a personal curiosity, then transformed into a school project and has ended up getting the first prize at the Galiciencia Fair, whose awards were delivered last Friday in Ourense.

Pablo Fern<! –

Pablo Fernndez and Nuno Sinde at their stand at the Galiciencia scientific fair

Detail of the stand of the Galiciencia fair, with a velutina nest and petri dishes with samples<! –

Detail of the stand of the Galiciencia fair, with a velutina nest and petri dishes with samples

All,the Councilor of Rural Environment is already interested in the investigations of Pedro and Nuno, that the next year will reach one of the most important fairs of the country: the Exporecerca de Barcelona. Ideally, all these interventions allow us to capture resources to continue with the experimentation. What we want is that this ends up being really useful, that does not stay in a job for the school or in a scientific tournament project, they say.

Your next step will be to apply everything investigated to an isolated nest to check behavior patterns. It is essential to see if the fungus affects only the velutina or also other native insects. In this last case, they point out, it will be possible to resort togenetic manipulation of the fungus to make it more selective.

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(tagsToTranslate) velutina (t) Poio (t) Education (t) Agriculture

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