Chairholder: Jacques Brodeur
The use of synthetic pesticides to control harmful organisms in agriculture and forestry has detrimental effects on the environment and human health; biocontrol represents an unequivocal alternative that is effective, sustainable and economical. It consists of using living organisms as “natural warriors” to reduce populations of undesirable insects. The main objectives of the Canada research chair in biocontrol are: i) to identify the ecological principles and mechanisms governing interactions between species in arthropod communities; ii) to apply these principles to the development of strategies and programs of biocontrol; and iii) to promote biocontrol.
The Chair’s most original achievements during the past year include: (i) a field study by Annabelle Firlej, characterizing soy plantation ground beetles and their auxiliary role in controlling soy aphids; (ii) a study by Julie Poitras-Saulnier on synthetic pesticide use in apple orchards over the last 40 years; (iii) the characterization of seasonal biology and host-parasite interactions in parasitoids of hemlock looper eggs, by Simon Legault; (iv) a study highlighting the impact of partial cutting in a forest environment on the diversity and abundance of xylophagous insects, by Mathieu Bélanger-Morin; (v) a study by Véronique Gariepy on the role of diverse species of soy aphid parasitoids and the first observation of Aphelinus certus under natural conditions in Quebec, which refocuses biocontrol strategies; (vi) the publication by Jacques Brodeur of a review article on parasitic specificity in biocontrol, using opportunistic fungi as a biological model.
In order for biocontrol to be adopted increasingly as a sustainable alternative to pesticides, it must be demystified and promoted among political leaders, users and the general public. Jacques Brodeur has pursued this objective in several domains, including as president of the International Organization for Biological Control.
This research was possible in part thanks to financial support from the Canada Research Chairs program.