Biopesticide Products Patented

Josh McGill Pesticides

Michael Jukes is one of the Rhodes University researchers behind the new biopesticides.

Research by Rhodes University PhD graduates Tamryn Marsberg and Michael Jukes has led to the patent of two viral-based products. MultiMax and CodlMax are alternatives to chemical pesticides on citrus, apples and litchi. The advantage of these products includes their lack of non-target effects; the pest is controlled without harming the environment.

The products could assist with control of the codling moth and can be incorporated into control programs alongside other products to mitigate resistance development. Farmers would be able to use an expanded range of options to control pests and prevent resistance development as part of an integrated pest management strategy.

A global patent for the novel biopesticides is now complete and work is underway to register and commercialize the products in various jurisdictions across the globe.

The genesis of the scientific odyssey goes back to 2013 when Marsberg, then a PhD student in the zoology and entomology department, began rearing litchi moth (Cryptophlebia peltastica)for her research. That was when she discovered a novel baculovirus.

By coincidence, in July of 2014, the department’s Polish collaborators, Bogusław Szewczyk and Łukasz Rąbalski, were asked by the Centre for Biological Control (CBC) at Rhodes University to assist in identifying a separate novel virus that had been detected in false codling moth, T-haumatotibia leucotreta.

From 2015 to 2017, Jukes from the biochemistry and microbiology department, along with Marsberg, Szewczyk and Rąbalski, researched these novel viruses extensively.

They discovered that in fact they were a single virus, the Alphabaculovirus Cryptophlebia peltastica Nucleopolyhedrovirus (CrpeNPV). Years of research led to the realization that CrpeNPV had significant potential as an environmentally friendly biopesticide. The CBC, its research partner Citrus Research International and industry partner, River Bioscience, moved to patent the product.  

The first draft of the CrpeNPV patent was prepared and signed in 2017, and since then the team has worked patenting the virus discovery across the globe.

This virus has now been registered and commercialized by River Bioscience. The first shipment of the patented CrpeNPV products, MultiMax and CodlMax, was sent to farmers for use against agricultural pests in South Africa in August 2023.

Source: Rhodes University

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