Christopher Tobe Okolo

Research themes
  • Ecosystem services
  • Sustainable use of natural resources
  • Biodiversity
Research countries
  • Germany
  • Nigeria
Research projects

Identification, Distribution and Development of EPN as Biological Control of Insect Pests

The central theme of my research is the application of biotechology and molecular science in agriculture, specifically in the management of insect pests on field crops with the use of biological control measures. 

The recurrent incidences and devastating activities of invasive insect pests on field crops of resource-poor farmers in Africa result in >80% of crop loss, equivalent to US$50 million. The predominant control measure for most insect pests on African farms is the use of chemical insecticides. Aside from being very expensive for most resource-poor farmers, these chemicals pose a huge risk to human and animal health. Insecticides negatively impact the environment and non-target insects.

It is evident also that these pests evolve over time and, by epigenetics, develop resistant strains, therefore, rendering the predominant chemical control measures insufficient for effective control. Therefore, an urgent need to explore safe, sustainable, and environmentally friendly alternative control measures that can be easily applied on the field and commercially scaled, such as the use of natural insect enemies as biological control agents.

Bacteria symbionts from Photorhabdus and Xenorhabdus species, inhabiting the enteric region of infective juveniles (IJs) of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) of the genera Heterorhabditis and Steinernema respectively, have exhibited pathogenic effects on insect pests. The bacteria are known to be obligate and can only infect a target pest when introduced into the pest by the infective juvenile live stage of this special group of nematodes. Thus, this dynamic bacteria-nematode association presents an alternative to the use of chemical insecticides mainly because of their ability to locate insects in cryptic habitats, their high reproductive ability, and their simplicity of mass production. In the long run, the use of the combined nematode-bacteria agents offers long-term goals of sustainable agricultural production in Africa.

 

The aim of this research is to successfully establish effective EPN species/strains for the sustainable biological control of insect pests of field crops in Nigeria. This can achieved by identifying indigenous strains of EPN and study their distribution in selected regions in Nigeria, test their efficacy for use as a biological control on invasive insect pests on field crops, and establish a genetic basis for improving their virulence and pathogenicity.

 

The principal research questions to tackle in this research are:

Is it possible to domesticate indigenous strains of EPN from Nigeria, that are highly virulent to insect pests by modulating their genetic make-up through selective crossbreeding?

Will the resulting EPN strains of these rigorous processes be stable with the symbiont bacteria and co-evolve with the insect pests as their natural enemies? 

Additional Information:
Professional experience

Lecturer I, Department of Crop Protection, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, NIgeria, 2017 - Date

Training Consultant, Ignitia, Abuja, Nigeria, 2017

Maize System Consultant (Pro-Vitamin A Maize), HarvestPlus, Abuja, Nigeria, 2016

Lab Intern, e-nema GmbH, Kiel, Germany, 2015

Degrees

M.Sc. Nematology, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium, 2015

University of Kiel, Germany, 2015 (Exchange Student)

B.Agric. (Crop Science), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, 2011

 

Expertise

Crop Protection, Insect Pest Control, Nematology, Biological Control Agents, EPN, Genetics, Molecular Biology

Funding institutions

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD)

Thesis title

Dynamics of nematode-bacteria interactions for the control of insect pests of plants

Supervisors of
doctoral work

Prof. Dr Christian Borgemeister

Prof. Dr Ralf-Udo Ehlers (University of Kiel/E-nema)

2020

Bulus, J., Abraham, P., Joshua, M., Shamaki, D. E., Okolo, C. T., & Chindo, P. S..  2020.  Distribution and Population Densities of Plant-Parasitic Nematodes Associated with Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) in Kaduna State, Nigeria.  FUDMA Journal of Sciences, 4(3)   : 496 - 504   . (Open Access)   Further Information

2019

Christopher Okolo and Candidus Echekwu.  2019.  Correlation and Path Analysis among components of Yield in selected Genotypes of Groundnut (Arachis hypogea L.) under Irrigation Conditions.  Journal of Crop Research, Agroforestry and Environment , 3   : 1 – 15   .
Christopher Okolo, Carlos Molina, Julius Bulus, Paul Chindo and Ralf Udo Ehlers.  2019.  Molecular Screening of Heterorhabditis bacteriophora Inbred Lines for Polymorphism and Genetic Crosses for the Development of Recombinant Inbred Lines.  Nigerian Journal Biotechnology, 36   : 27 - 33   .

2018

Christopher Okolo, Carlos Molina, Julius Bulus, Paul Chindo and Ralf Udo Ehlers.  2018.  Desiccation and Oxidative Stress Tolerance as Measures to Evaluate longevity in entomopathogenic nematodes.  Nigerian Journal of Plant Protection, 32   : 78 - 89   .
Nanette Hope Sumaya, Riddi Gohil, Christopher Okolo, Temesgen Addis, Verena Dörfler, Carlo Molina and Ralf Udo Ehlers.  2018.  Applying inbreeding, hybridization and mutagenesis to improve oxidative stress tolerance and longevity of entomopathogenic nematodes Heterorhabditis bacteriophora.  Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 151   : 50 - 58   . Further Information

Additionals, Curriculum Vitae
and Downloads

Christopher Tobe Okolo

Junior Researcher

Division/Group:
Ecology and Natural Resources Management

E-Mail:
cokolo(at)uni-bonn.de

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