FAW Notes from Across the Region: Philippines - Entomopathogenic Fungi

ASEAN FAW Action Plan project associate, Randolph Candano, interviews Melissa Montecalvo to find out more about her work on biological control of plant pests and diseases.

Melissa works at the National Crop Protection Center (NCPC) in the Philippines where she implements research and development initiatives on fungal disease management, biological control of insect pests and diseases, and postharvest pathology. She is also involved in the NCPC Plant Health Clinic, which provides plant disease diagnosis to various stakeholders. Melissa is also active in promoting research findings in scientific conferences and in providing training and extension services on disease identification and management.

What are you currently doing at NCPC? What work are you and your organization currently undertaking related to FAW?

My current research is focused on the biological control of insect pests and diseases. Specifically, my team identifies beneficial microorganisms such as bacterial and fungal isolates that can work against fungal pathogens. We also study the potential use of entomopathogenic fungi against the brown planthopper that is a serious pest that infests rice. I also collaborate with scientist Marcela M. Navasero in conducting bioefficacy testing, mass production, and formulation of entomopathogenic fungi against three armyworm species, namely the fall armyworm (FAW), onion armyworm, and true armyworm.

The NCPC is also proactive in the detection of FAW and is closely coordinating and providing technical assistance to farmers, government agencies, and private institutions. We are also part of the FAO FAW Global Action Program and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) FAW Research and Extension Committee. NCPC also develops crop protection strategies by conducting research on microbials, natural enemies, pheromones, and insecticide management. Some of these initiatives are being implemented with the Institute of Weed Science, Entomology, and Plant Pathology in the College of Agriculture and Food Science at UPLB.