SLU news

CBC researchers receive innovation award for hoverflies as multi-tools for plant protection

Published: 22 April 2020
A yellow and blavck-striped fly on a white flower, photo.

"Small, smart and on nature's own terms" said the jury about the winning contribution which was about using nature's own small drones for pollination and for supplying beneficial microorganisms. Researcher Paul Becher and PhD student Guillermo Rehermann have been awarded SLU Alnarp and Sparbankens Skåne's Innovation Award 2020 and recieved 100 000 SEK.

Paul and Guillermo's contribution, "Flying Agents - hoverflies for pollination, pest Control and targeted vectoring of beneficial microbes", uses nature's own small drones, hoverflies, for pollination and also in extension to be able to accurately supply various beneficial microorganisms and  chemicals.

– Everyone knows, pollination by bees is of crucial importance for our ecosystems and agricultural production. Interestingly, bees are applied as ‘Flying Doctors’ for vectoring biocontrol agents to flowering crops for control of plant pathogens, says Paul Becher.

Hoverflies - a multitool for biological plant protection

Another group of pollinators are hoverflies, which are harmless flies that imitate bees and wasps with a black-yellow body to scare off other animals that want to eat them. Like bees, they are visiting flowers but before turning into a pollinator, a hoverfly often has eaten hundreds of aphids. For this reason, they are applied for biological pest control in greenhouses.

– We discovered that hoverflies are strongly attracted to certain yeasts, which is known to inhibit plant pathogens. This prompted the idea to combine pollination, pest control and targeted vectoring of beneficial microbes in a hoverfly-based multitool for biological plant protection – the ‘Flying Agents’, says Paul.

"Unique, innovative, relevant and with good opportunities to be successful"

"Small, smart and on nature's own terms" - that was the jury's summary of the winning contribution when this innovation prize was awarded for the first time. "Unique, innovative, relevant and with good opportunities to be successful" were other factors that distinguished the winning contribution according to the jury consisting of Annica Karlsson (Inter Ikea), Agneta Påander (Orkla Foods) and Lennart Wikström (Tejarps Förlag).


Portrait photography of a man.Paul Becher

Researcher at the Department of Plant Protection Biology
Telephone: 040-415305