The Development of a Microbial Pest Control Agent from Finding to Product Launch by Industry

In the research to develop an MPCA we often see in academic studies a focus on particular biological aspects of the MPCA. In order to arrive at the launch of a successful product all steps in the developmental process must be conducted. A commercial producer has to carry out all these steps. In the literature, however, we rarely find a description of a complete and systematic approach. In a few projects the entire process is described. An early example from the biocontrol industry is given by Lisansky (1985) based on the experience with L. muscarium and L. longisporum. He presented a diagram that covers all the steps, from defining the pest problem to selling the product and after-sales service, and he briefly described the considerations per step. Screening of strains is not mentioned, however, nor did he give critical aspects that lead to decision-making in the process.

Bayer initiated the development of a biopesticide around 1990 and developed Bio-1020; a mycoinsecticide based on a strain of Metarhizium anisopliae for control of the black vine weevil. A brief development scheme, mainly focused on production, was given on the developmental steps for a microbial product (Andersch 1992). No details were given on what the determinative considerations were, while one expects the largest agrochemical company in the world to have clear decision criteria for such a developmental process.

In the field of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs), Biosys, an American EPN producing company, recognized three stages in research in the product development pathway: basic research, applied research and commercialization (Georgis 2002). Remarkably, strain selection is not mentioned. It does not reveal importance or order of research steps, nor criteria that could decide whether to continue with a product.

A good example originating from the academic world is the Lubilosa project (see Chapter 1). Here, the problem-solving approach was clearly taken. The wide use of chemical insecticides had so many negative aspects that public concern demanded an alternative solution, and a number of donor countries initiated the Lubilosa programme. From the beginning, the development of a mycoinsecticide was foreseen and all necessary steps were identified and executed (Lomer 1999; Dent 1998). The scheme (Chapter 1, Fig. 1.1) used in the Lubilosa project (Dent 1998) illustrates all the steps in the project.

Most scientists and biocontrol companies, however, seem to develop their products without a well-described plan. As observed in Chapter 1, there is a need for a general procedure, for a systematic and structured roadmap that guides biocon-trol developers through the complex process of developing a new biocontrol agent. A model for the product development of a MPCA based on 25 years of experience in the biocontrol industry will be presented in this study.

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