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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Bee-Vectored Aureobasidium pullulans for Biological Control of Gray Mold in Strawberry

Iqbal, Mudassir; Jutzeler, Matilda; Franca, Soraya C.; Wackers, Felix; Andreasson, Erik; Stenberg, Johan A.


Gray mold caused by Botrytis cinerea is a common postharvest disease in strawberries, reducing shelf life considerably. We investigated the potential of the yeast-like biocontrol fungus Aureobasidium pullulans (AP-SLU6) vectored by bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) in the Flying DoctorsVR system to inhibit the pathogen and increase the shelf life of harvested strawberries (cultivar Sonata). Using bumblebees as vectors of various biocontrol agents is becoming increasingly popular, but any potentially negative effects on bee performance have been understudied. Our results show that, over the 4-week period of the trial, the performance and activity of the bees were not negatively affected by A. pullulans. The bees successfully picked up the powder formulation; then, they carried and deposited it on the flowers. The vectoring of the biocontrol agent significantly reduced gray mold development on the harvested fruits by 45% and increased shelf life by 100% in comparison with control treatments. This suggests that the biocontrol fungus applied during flowering successfully reduced Botrytis infection and thus, effectively protected the fruits from gray mold. In addition, the bee-vectored application of the biocontrol agent was found to be significantly more effective than spray application because the latter may temporarily increase humidity around the flower, thereby creating a suitable environment for the pathogen to thrive. In summary, our study demonstrates that A. pullulans vectored by bumblebees can decrease gray mold infection and improve the shelf life of strawberries without adversely affecting the bees, thus providing a basis for the sustainable and efficient control of gray mold on strawberry.


Aureobasidium pullulans; biological control; Bombus terrestris; Botrytis cinerea; entomovectoring; Fragaria x ananassa; garden strawberry

Published in

2022, Volume: 112, number: 2, pages: 232-237