Processors and Growers Research Organisation

The Biology and Integrated Management of Bean Seed Fly.

The aim of the proposed PhD is to increase knowledge about, and understanding of, bean seed fly biology to underpin the development of an integrated strategy for bean seed fly control.  Bean seed fly is a common pest of a range of crops grown in the UK and more widely, including peas, beans, onions and courgettes.  Its effects can be devastating.  Growers, agronomists, seed treatment specialists and researchers believe that there is a need to explore a range of approaches to management and control of bean seed fly since insecticidal options are becoming very limited. 

PGRO and The University of Warwick have collaborated successfully in research projects in the past and are currently collaborating in a project on insecticidal control of bean seed fly funded by the AHDB.  The proposed PhD fits closely with research undertaken within the ‘Plant and Crop Science’ theme in the School of Life Sciences and our emphasis on Integrated Pest Management. It ties in closely with the aims of the Food GRP because vegetables are an important component of a healthy diet and legumes, in particular, may become a more important source of protein in our diet in the future.

  1. The PhD will address the following approaches/questions:
    Improved understanding of the bean seed fly life-cycle and the influence of temperature/weather conditions.  This is particularly related to the overwintering stage (what induces it and what ends it). This is to improve our ability to forecast the periods when bean seed flies are laying many eggs and the student will ain to establish a culture of bean seed fly and undertake experimental work in the lab to determine the relationship between fly development and temperature. The student will also monitor bean seed flies and record temperature data in the field to ‘test’ forecasts.  We will aim to determine, using modelling approaches, whether soil day-degrees provide a better forecast than air day-degrees.

  2. Improved understanding of the behaviour and spatial distribution of bean seed fly.  This will involve monitoring flies and sampling for the eggs/larvae at experimental sites and in commercial crops, as well as liaising with growers who are reporting damage to crops.

  3. Approaches to reducing the size of bean seed fly infestations in susceptible crops.  This is likely to be through cultural methods including the timing of cultivations.  Equally important is to understand what increases bean seed fly infestations e.g. cover crops, organic matter in the soil.  This will be field work – either in small plot trials or in collaboration with growers.






Rebecca McGowan

Start Date: October 2019

Duration of study: 3.5 years