Development of plant protection technologies for tuber crops is the mandate of this division. Research on various diseases and pests affecting tuber crops is the major activity. The areas affected by different pests and diseases are visited by the experts of the division and the methods to solve the problems are recommended and demonstrated for the benefit of the farmers. Biotechnological approaches for managing important viral diseases like cassava mosaic disease is one of the major research works going on here. The division had developed biopesticides from cassava leaves and it is being sold to farmers at a very nominal rate.
Cassava based biopesticides have been developed against papaya mealy bug, Aphids, Borer pests like Red palm weevil and storage pests, viz., Sitophilus oryzae, Rhizopatta dominica .The pilot plant for production of biopesticide has been installed in the institute
Crop rotation studies showed that paddy – sweet potato – cowpea can minimise weevil damage in sweet potato. A very effective IPM package with synthetic sex pheromone as the main component has been demonstrated successfully in 9 states for the control of sweet potato weevil. In addition a kairomone, Boehmeryl acetate, present in the periderm of sweet potato tubers promise in its control attracting both male and female weevils.
Natural enemies were identified for tuber crop pests viz. Scolothrips indicus and Coccinellid predators on spider mites, Encarsia spp and Eretomocerus spp on whitely. Biotypes of Bemisia tabaci have identified for the first time. Spiralling whitefly infestation was found to be severe in the cassava areas of Tamil Nadu where it has industrial importance.
A process for enhancing shelf life of EPN has been developed and an EPN formulation has been standardized which is effective against ants, red ants and mealy bugs associated with them and termites found in and around houses, farms and lawn. Patent filed on "An entomopathogenic nematode for the effective biocontrol of ants and termites and their storage and packing for marketing.
Three bioactive molecules from the bacterial metamolite isolated from EPN effective against fungi (Fusarium oxysporum and Rhizoctonia solani) were purified, identified and their structure elucidated. These are also effective against human pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Ninteen bioactive molecules were separated and purified. Four have been registered for patenting.