The following thematic sessions have been approved:

1 Aquatic weed biological control ▶
Full title: Biological control of aquatic weeds

Chairs: Julie Coetzee, Alejandro Sosa, Melissa Smith

Contact: julie.coetzee@ru.ac.za

The goal of the session is to bring together aquatic weed biocontrol scientists from all over the world together, to share recent developments and insights in control of these species. The session will include wetland invaders, and cover topics such as new biocontrol targets, integrated management, restoration followinig control.
2 Biological control and the agroecology toolkit ▶
Full title: Slotting biological control into the agroecology toolkit

Chairs: Kris Wyckhuys, Lessando Gontijo

Contact: kagwyckhuys@gmail.com

Agroecology is a holistic approach to agri-food production that is increasingly prominent in scientific, farmer and political circles. Agroecology is seen as an ‘indispensable ingredient’ of any effort that aims to transform the world’s food systems in order to make those more resource-frugal, climate-resilient and nature-friendly. The concept resonates well with many biological control scientists and - intuitively - much could be gained from a closer engagement with agroecology science and practice. Yet, though core agroecology principles such as input reduction, soil health, (on- and off-farm) biodiversity conservation or inter-organismal synergies all relate to the abundance, activity and performance of biological control organisms, the practice of biological control itself often does not explicitly feature in the agro-ecology toolkit. Indeed, many agroecologists are either unaware of the value of augmentative biological control or overly concerned about the ecological risks of natural enemy introductions. This compares to agronomic measures such as crop diversification, organic manuring or no-till and arthropod mediated services such as pollination or nutrient cycling – all of which are wholeheartedly embraced by agroecology scientists and practitioners alike. In this Session, we aim to showcase how a closer engagement between agroecology and biological control disciplines can favor cross-pollination, dispel some of the above misunderstandings, help pinpoint inventive ways e.g., to conserve resident natural enemies or to extend the lifespan of released (or introduced) biota and build critical momentum for biological control globally.
3 Applied biological control in Latin America ▶
Full title: Advance of applied Biological Control in Latin America

Chairs: Yelitza Colmenarez, Lorena Barra Bucarei

Contact: y.colmenarez@cabi.org

The Neotropical Region is well-known for its high biodiversity which can favour the use of biological control agents for the sustainable management of key pests and pathogens affecting the crops. The aim of the scientific session is to present the advances of the different biological control programmes applied in key crops and commodities in Latin America, highlighting the results and experience of countries from the region, and discussing factors that enable or disable the use and uptake of biological control in the region.
4 Free session ▶
Full title: Free session


5 Risk assessment of cactus pests and weeds ▶
Full title: Risk Assessment Procedures for the Safe Import, Quarantine Rearing, and Release of Biological Control Agents Against Weeds and Pests

Chairs: Laura Varone, M. Belén Aguirre

Contact: lauvarone@fuedei.org

Cacti are megadiverse and fascinating plants from the Americas. They hold significant cultural, ecological, economic, and medicinal value, particularly in arid and semiarid regions where they can be crucial for subsistence. Many cactus species, such as those in the Opuntia genus, are grown worldwide for their fruit and vegetable crops and are increasingly used as forage for livestock in dry areas. Unfortunately, cacti are among the most endangered groups according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, many cactus species have become invasive outside their native ranges, and a few of them are among the most damaging invasive plant species in the world causing significant ecological and economic harm. To address this issue, biological control programs have been developed, with countries like Australia and South Africa having a history of successful implementation. However, some biocontrol agents are also pests, threatening native cactus species and crops. Some cochineal insects used for biological control of invasive cactus also attack productive cactus crops like O. ficus-indica, which has become increasingly popular, creating a conflict of interest. At the same time, there are several natural enemies that are used to control cochineals in different parts of the world, but none of them are host-specific. The use of these generalist natural enemies in release areas could negatively impact released biological control agents. All natural enemies used for pest or weed control pose some level of risk to non-target species. Risk assessment procedures for the safe introduction of natural enemies include quarantine laboratory host range testing, damage prediction, natural enemies’ and interaction studies. Equally important but often overlooked is the post-release research to determine the establishment and success of the agent, the outcome of the introductions, and the reasons for failure or success. This session aims to provide updates on pre- and post-release recent research on potential biocontrol agents for cactus pests and cactus weeds globally.
6 Molecular tools in biological control ▶
Full title: Molecular Tools in Biological Control

Chairs: Tara Gariepy, Jason Schmidt

Contact: tara.gariepy@agr.gc.ca

To highlight the use of molecular tools in biological control, in particular in terms of population genetics, understanding host-parasitoid associations, and foodweb ecology
7 Pre-emptive classical biological biocontrol ▶
Full title: Pre-emptive biological control: a novel approach to increase preparedness for potential biosecurity threats

Chairs: Gonzalo Avila, Jana Collatz

Contact: gonzalo.avila@plantandfood.co.nz

Recent years have seen a substantial increase in invasive insect species invading countries worldwide. Many of these insect species (e.g., brown marmorated stink bug, fall armyworm, spotted wing drosophila) are highly polyphagous and are considered serious as high-risk biosecurity threats to valued plant systems in many countries, and can result in serious economic losses to agriculture and horticulture industries. Biological control is frequently adopted for sustainable management of invasive arthropod pests and has often proved highly cost effective. However, the severity and imminent nature of some new high-risk insect threats means that it would be highly advantageous if we could avoid waiting for a pest to arrive before adopting a biological control approach (i.e., classical, augmentative and conservation). Traditionally, biological control programmes are developed and implemented once control with pesticides has failed and the pest has spread, and the invasion is well underway, and this is often years after the establishment of the invasive pest. As a result, delays in the implementation of biological control early in the invasion process may have serious economic and environmental impacts. Therefore, there is a need for a pre-emptive biological control approach for invasive insect pests prior to their arrival and establishment into new environments.
Pre-emptive biocontrol is a novel approach that provides the opportunity to develop biological control for invasive pests before they arrive in the country at risk of introduction. In the case of classical biological control (CBC), for example, a critical aspect of this approach is that risk assessment is carried out in advance of the arrival of the pest. Implementing pre-emptive biocontrol risk assessment means that natural enemies can be selected, screened and pre-approved for release before an anticipated pest invasion, thus improving CBC effectiveness. As a good example of this approach, we have the recent pre-emptive biocontrol programme conducted in New Zealand for Halyomorpha halys, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). This pre-emptive approach resulted in the approval (subject to strict controls), by New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority, to release Trissolcus japonicus in the event of a BMSB incursion in New Zealand. This novel example of pre-emptive biocontrol might provide the impetus for biocontrol practitioners to consider such an approach in the future for the early management of exotic pest incursions.
We believe that this novel approach of conducting biological control will be of great interest to scientists and biocontrol practitioners attending the Third International Congress of Biological Control (ICBC3) in San José, Costa Rica. Therefore, we propose a scientific session on pre-emptive biological control where the primary goal will be to highlight the importance of pre-emptive biocontrol, and to collect scientific presentations addressing the concepts, applications, and its current status.
8 Use and preservation of parasitoids in agriculture ▶
Full title: Use and preservation of parasitoids in agriculture: Challenges and Potential

Chairs: Matthew Tinsley, Yelitza C. Colmenarez

Contact: matthew.tinsley@stir.ac.uk

To present results and experiences with the use of parasitoids as Biological Control agents in Integrated Pest Management programmes in Latin America, highlighting Augmentative and Conservation Biological Control practices applied in key crops.
9 Biological control in a changing world! ▶
Full title: Biocontrol in a changing world! Develop and broadcast biocontrol strategies resilient to climate change and biodiversity loss

Chairs: Michelle Fountain, Liam Harvey

Contact: Michelle.Fountain@niab.com

In a world struggling with the profound impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, biological control strategies have become a critical tool for sustainable agriculture and ecosystem management. This session will highlight the critical role of biological control in adapting to our changing environment and explore innovative approaches to developing and disseminating resilient biological control strategies. The session will be highlighting the importance of biological control for sustainable agriculture and conservation. Speakers can discuss the importance of biological control in a changing world, present the latest research and advances in biological control strategies, and share real-world examples of successful initiatives. It will further allow discussions between experts from diverse backgrounds, including scientists, practitioners and policymakers. They will share their insights and discuss the current state of biocontrol efforts in the face of climate change and biodiversity loss. Strategies for integrating biocontrol efforts into broader conservation and agricultural policies will be discussed. The session will also feature case studies of successful biocontrol efforts from different regions and ecosystems, providing valuable insights and best practices for implementing resilient biocontrol strategies.rnFinally, participants will be encouraged to take concrete action to develop and promote biocontrol strategies that can thrive in a changing world. Ultimately, these efforts will contribute significantly to biodiversity conservation and agricultural sustainability, and ensure more resilient and harmonious coexistence with our ever-changing environment.rn
10 Mechanism in conservation biological control ▶
Full title: Mechanism in Conservation Biological Control

Chairs: Tania Zaviezo, Simone Mundstock Jahnke, Yelitza Colmenarez

Contact: tzaviezo@uc.cl

Most studies in conservation biological control in insects report how vegetation management practices affect the presence and/or abundance of beneficial insects, mostly in the vegetation itself and few in the crops. However, the mechanisms explaining these patterns and effects are rarely evaluated. In this session we want to present studies that provide evidence of the mechanisms by which vegetation management increases natural enemies and/or biological control in crops.
11 Trends in commercial biological control ▶
Full title: Trajectory of commercial biological control in North America and Europe

Chairs: Lynn M. LeBeck

Contact: exdir@anbp.org

Goal of session: Describe and discuss current trends and future opportunities in commercial biological control including: 1) new products and market forces, 2) regulatory barriers and initiatives, 3) research on production and application of natural enemies, 4) grower (user) support for successful implementation, and 5) current trends and future opportunities in commercial biological control. Speakers will be encouraged to include the latest information on microbial products, both for arthropods and plant pathogens. We are hoping to co-organize with the IBMA or include the BPIA from North America, associations that serve the bioproduct industries.
12 Biocontrol of invasive alien grasses ▶
Full title: Invasive alien grasses as targets for weed biological control

Chairs: Iain Paterson, Greg Wheeler, Guy Sutton

Contact: I.Paterson@ru.ac.za

Invasive alien grasses (Poaceae) have historically been avoided as targets for biological control due to the perception that safe and effective agents are unlikely to exist. This perception is based on assumptions that grasses lack the complex secondary compounds that drive the diversification and host specialization of natural enemies, that grasses are tolerant of herbivory, and that natural enemies of invasive grasses may also feed on the many grasses that are grown as crops. Invasive alien grasses are however some of the most devastating alien species to global biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, with impacts that include increasing the frequency and intensity of fires, so the use of biological control as a potential management option can no longer be neglected. Recently, several biocontrol programmes against invasive alien grasses have been initiated. The speakers in this session will update the audience on the progress that has been made in biocontrol of grasses globally, recent developments that support or refute the use of biocontrol of grasses will be discussed, and recommendations for how grass biocontrol could be utilized to its maximum potential will be made.
13 Biocontrol and climate change ▶
Full title: Biocontrol and climate change: challenges and adaptation

Chairs: van Baaren Joan, MA Chun-Sen, Colmenarez Yelitza

Contact: joan.van-baaren@univ-rennes.fr

During the last fifty years, human activities have profoundly modified the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, giving rise to what has been defined by the terminology "global environmental changes", which include changes in land use and climatic changes. The simplification of landscapes and the homogenization of cultivated land surfaces have led to the degradation of the number and diversity of natural and semi-natural elements. The retroactive effect of this land use consists of a loss of diversity within plant communities, affecting higher trophic levels and leading to a loss of animal biodiversity. For example, 75% of the biomass of flying insect communities has been lost on European territory in almost 30 years. Together with intensive land use, human activity and the associated increase in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere is responsible for a second major feedback effect, global climate change. This results in an increase in average temperatures as well as in the number of extreme climatic events, such as droughts or major floods, storms, heat waves or unpredictable cold snaps. For living organisms, a growing number of studies have thus been able to demonstrate that the modification of abiotic conditions, from the global scale to the local scale, is responsible for changes in phenology (i.e. periodic event of biological activity determined by seasonal variations) and geographic distributions. Intensive land use and climate change are thus two factors responsible for global environmental changes and the loss of biodiversity suffered by ecosystems such as agroecosystems. These biotic and abiotic modifications are responsible for changes in the physiology of living organisms, in the relative abundance of individuals of different species and finally in the specific diversity of communities. All of these biotic and abiotic changes are at the origin of an alteration in the interactions between species and trophic levels, which has led to modifications in the very functioning of these ecosystems and thus in the associated ecosystem services. In agroecosystems, one of the major ecosystem services is that of the biological control of crop pests. This ecological process, due to its close link with biodiversity, has been significantly affected by global environmental changes. The term biological control is generally used to define any suppression of an organism harmful to humans (pests, such as insects, mites, weeds and plant diseases) by another living organism, called Biological control agents (BCA), which includes predators, parasitoids, pathogens, fungi, bacteria, virus…. Related to biological pest control is the technique of introducing sterile individuals into the native population of some organism. This technique is widely practised with insects. Biological control involves an active human management role and can be an important component of integrated pest management (IPM) programs. There are three basic strategies for biological pest control: classical (importation), where a natural enemy of a pest is introduced in the hope of achieving control; inductive (augmentation), in which a large population of natural enemies are administered for quick pest control; and inoculative (conservation), in which measures are taken to maintain natural enemies through regular reestablishment. The aim of this session is to review the effect (either positive or negative) of climate change on the ecosystem service of Biocontrol, in all its components.
14 Raising awareness for action: Country perspective ▶
Full title: Raising awareness for action: Country perspectives on community engagement and what it means for those researchers

Chairs: Kim Weaver, Grant Martin, Yelitza Colmenarez, Lorena Barra Bucarei, Malvika Chaudhary

Contact: k.weaver@ru.ac.za

The goal of the session “Raising awareness for action” would be an opportunity for researchers to share their community engagement initiatives from their respective countries. We propose to get experience and examples from the globe to review current and past community engagement efforts to facilitate meaningful future community engagement activities. Sharing how researchers have used digital platforms will be useful too. Finally, the purpose behind including action into the title of the session is for us to use this platform and support to assist, develop, implement and expand biological control initiatives within communities around the globe.
15 Improving biological control traits ▶
Full title: Targeting biological control traits for improvement: challenges and future directions

Chairs: Kelley Leung, Leo W. Beukeboom

Contact: k.leung@rug.nl

Targeting specific biological control traits for improvement is highly topical. With the import of novel agents being restricted by the Nagoya protocol, researchers and practitioners have looked to optimize the performance of populations already in use. This session explores the emerging successful methods and challenges that arise in this process. How are target traits that have significant impact on mass rearing and storage, field performance, and ecological safety identified and chosen for an improvement regiment? How are they effectively improved? Are they amenable to artificial selection, manipulation through a specific genetic mechanism, or effect from changes in environmental conditions? There are various approaches and perspectives that may be synthesized to present concrete objectives to the field as a whole. For example, several of the potential speakers have noted the lack of high-quality data on the genetic variation and measurement of life history traits across biocontrol agents. A session outcome may be drafting a standardized approach of collecting this data and making it widely available, i.e. through a new or existing universal database. They may also identify patterns across their work for direction that are most promising, e.g. are fitness traits for production more or less subject to improvement than pest-killing ability? This session highlights specific point to the growing number of arguments for amending the Nagoya protocol. In congruence with preserving global access and benefit sharing equity, additional provisions should be made to secure materials for non-profit research purposes. Many of the fundamental knowledge gaps about how to improve biological control traits cannot filled without access to materials from origin populations. Have captive populations lost genetic diversity and/or phenotypic plasticity relative to their native counterparts? Does this limit their capacity for improvement? This session will help elucidate the most promising directions for targeted biological trait improvement and solutions for problems in approaches and policy.
16 Biodiversity-based pest management practices ▶
Full title: Enhanced biodiversity at landscape level for sustainable management of crop pests

Chairs: Feng Zhang, Oliver Bach

Contact: f.zhang@cabi.org

Intensive agriculture has led to several drawbacks such as biodiversity loss, climate change, soil erosion, and environmental pollution. It also creates unfavorable environments for natural enemies and pollinator insects. A potential solution is to implement management practices that increase the level of provision of ecosystem services such as conservation biological control. In this session, we will bring experts from different continents to showcase successful biodiversity-based pest management practices and stimulate discussions on further uptake and research at different levels.
17 Foodborne and plant pathogens biological control ▶
Full title: Progress on the biological control of foodborne and plant pathogens of agricultural commodities

Chairs: Dr. Modesto Olanya, Dr. Adelumula (Ade) Oladeinde, Dr. Dilip Laksman, Professor (Dr.) Peter Ojiambo

Contact: modesto.olanya@usda.gov

The goal of the session is to highlight current research on the biocontrol of foodborne and plant pathogens as well as the diversity of technologies used for the biological control of important agricultural commodities. To date, advances in the biocontrol of foodborne and plant pathogens have lagged the biocontrol of insect/animal pests in terms of field applications and utility. This could partly be attributed to specificity of controls, types of pathogens/pests, efficacy of controls and applicable technologies. In this symposium, we will address and discuss various examples of research and utility of biocontrol interventions for mitigation of foodborne and plant pathogens and their subsequent effects on food safety. For foodborne pathogens, examples will be drawn from current research on safe and beneficial microorganisms for control of pathogens in diverse systems e.g., bacteria in pre- and post-harvest foods (broiler chicken production) or on produce (predatory bacteria and antimicrobials) and active polymer coating with antimicrobials for pathogen inactivation. For plant pathogens, the utility of microbial diversity and suppressive soils for disease control, as well as updates on technologies for biocontrol of toxicogenic fungi in diverse cropping systems will be highlighted. An overview of challenges and potential impediments to the applications of biocontrol interventions for foodborne and plant pathogens will be discussed and future implications addressed.
18 Classical biological control in sub-tropical Africa ▶
Full title: Recent advances in the classical biological control of alien invasive insects in sub-tropical Africa

Chairs: Ivan Rwomushana, Frank Chidawanyika

Contact: i.rwomushana@cabi.org

The last two decades have experienced an upsurge in the introduction of alien invasive insects in various parts of sub-tropical Africa, driven by factors such as increasing trade, travel and tourism while climate change has further exacerbated the impacts. A number of these insect species have become established as pests on agricultural crops, causing significant yield losses and resulted in the reliance and over-use of synthetic pesticides for their control. Consequently, there is a renewed interest in classical biological control as a cost-effective, environmentally friendly approach that can solve these alien pest problems while conserving native insect biodiversity. With the much broader understanding of ISPM3 and ABS regulations by countries, the devastating impacts of the arrival of new invasive alien pests can be mitigated using classical biological control. Therefore, in the last ten years, a number of agencies such as CABI, FAO, ICIPE and IITA in collaboration with national partners have imported, undertaken risk assessments and released a number of classical biological control agents against alien invaders such as fall armyworm, mango mealybug, papaya mealybug and tomato leaf miner in several countries. This session seeks to bring together global experts and institutions working on classical biological control to share experiences and impacts of this approach, and explore opportunities for further work and collaboration in this area.
19 Biological control of plant diseases ▶
Full title: Biocontrol of plant diseases: efficacy, durability and integration

Chairs: BARDIN Marc

Contact: marc.bardin@inrae.fr

Field use of microbial biocontrol agents against plant diseases is much more complex than applying chemical control, as their protective efficacy is influenced by the combination of a large number of agronomic as well as biotic and abiotic factors. The purpose of the session is to gather representatives of end-users (farmers, farm advisers), the biocontrol industry, and academia (including PhD students) to discuss issues on the development of biocontrol against plant diseases. The different objectives of this session will be to : - review the factors modulating the protective efficacy of biocontrol microbial agents, and the levers for improving their efficacy. - review our knowledge of the durability of this plant protection tool and the risks associated with the development of pathogen resistance - evaluate the ability to combine these tools with other protection tools as part of an integrated pest management strategy - identify new approaches for the development of new microbe-based biocontrol products
20 Role of microbials in sustainable agriculture ▶
Full title: Use of Microbials as biological control agents in Sustainable Agriculture

Chairs: Lorena Barra Bucarei, Yelitza Colmenarez, Daohong Jiang, Jiatao Xie

Contact: lorena.barra@inia.cl

Evaluation of the microorganisms reported in Latin America reinforces the high biodiversity present in the region and the importance of them as Biological Control agents. This scientific session will look forward to presenting the results and highlighting case studies on the use of microbial as a key component in Sustainable Agriculture.
21 Modeling biological control interactions ▶
Full title: Modeling biological control interactions in support of agriculture and conservation

Chairs: George Heimpel

Contact: heimp001@umn.edu

Biological control interactions take place in complex ecological webs, and are also affected by human-associated constraints such as costs, difficulties in rearing agents, and limitation on resources. Amidst all of this complexity, it can be difficult to accurately predict which of the various courses of action open to biological control researchers will lead to what outcomes. Various modeling approaches have been developed over the history of biological control science to better understand the determinants of effective biological control. While these models have been instrumental in conceptualizing important interactions, their tangible contributions the practical implementation of biological control have remained limited. In this session we present a diverse array of perspectives on the utility of conceptual, mathematical and statistical modeling for the understanding of biological control interactions, and ultimately for the improvement of biological control predictability and efficacy. Topics covered include the use of simulation models to understand the influence of climate change and landscape structure on biological control interactions, the use of natural enemy-informed dynamic threshold models to reduce insecticide use, the importance of natural enemy traits in determining the efficacy of biological control, and guidelines for balancing potential benefits and risks of biological control introductions.
22 Socio-economics of biological control ▶
Full title: Socio-economics of biological control

Chairs: Justice Tambo, Beatrice Muriithi

Contact: j.tambo@cabi.org

Crop pests continue to cause significant economic losses and pose serious threats to environmental sustainability and food security, particularly in low-income food-deficit countries. While biological control is considered an environmentally friendly and sustainable way of managing crop pests, uptake is poor in many developing countries. Among the key obstacles to adoption include socio-economic factors, such as a lack of availability of biological control agents (BCAs) in local markets, and farmers knowledge and perceptions about its impacts and cost-effectiveness. The proposed session will provide an opportunity to discuss economic impacts of biocontrol and some potential solutions to the socio-economic barriers to its uptake in low-income countries. The session will take stock of methodological approaches for studying the economic value of biological control and provide a global overview of studies examining the economic impacts of biological control initiatives. Examples of recent assessments of the socio-economic impacts of biological control interventions in Africa and Asia will be presented. The session will also highlight the importance of gender in the adoption of biological control, which is often overlooked. Specifically, gender differences in farmers perceptions and knowledge of biological control, as well as how best to support women farmers to adopt BCAs will be discussed. Finally, a case study on business models for incentivizing local production of BCAs will be presented at the session.
23 Adoption of IPM for successful biological control ▶
Full title: The importance of IPM adoption for biological control success

Chairs: Matthew Tinsley, Yelitza Colmenarez

Contact: matthew.tinsley@stir.ac.uk

To present results and case studies about the importance of IPM adoption for promoting a more sustainable environment that increases the odds of biological control success in the field, especially regarding both Augmentative and Conservation Biological Control strategies.