“… the Institute licenses isolates of Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae, which are entomopathogenic fungi, for private sector companies. Today, 100% of the companies that produce these fungi use those isolates …”
Ana Eugênia de Carvalho Campos is the general director of Instituto Biológico since 2019. Campos has a degree in Biological Sciences from the Federal University of Uberlândia and a PhD in Zoology from Universidade Estadual Paulista.
Instituto Biológico (Brazilian Biological Institute) is a research center linked to the Secretary of Agriculture and Supply of the State of São Paulo, focused on production, dissemination and transference of technologies and scientific knowledge in the areas of agribusiness, biosafety and related activities.
AgriBrasilis – Which sector generates the most research and solutions at the Institute?
Ana Eugênia – To meet the growing demand for healthier foods and environment preservation, one of the greatest challenges of modern agriculture is the control of diseases and pests in plants of commercial interest. An important tool is the use of macro and microorganisms in biological control.
The Biological Control Reference Laboratory Unit of the Biological Institute develops biological control technologies and offers services to the biocontroller sector, through the Biological Control Innovation and Technology Transfer Program. For example, the Institute licenses isolates of Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae, which are entomopathogenic fungi, to private companies. Today, 100% of the companies that produce these fungi use those isolates.
With the growth of the biological control area in Brazil, which reaches a rate of 20% per year, it’s expected that the Biological Institute increases its offer of the isolates that are researched, so that farmers can have a range of sustainable alternatives.
Another area is where researchers from the Reference Laboratory in Applied Molecular Biology work. There, research on animal and plant health and environmental protection is carried out, using genomics and bioinformatics tools. This is a growing area that helps in the identification of organisms of agricultural interest.
Also, in the area of animal health, the Institute has the only Brazilian factory that produces immunobiologicals for the diagnosis of animal brucellosis and tuberculosis, as we support the National Plan for the Eradication and Control of Brucellosis and Tuberculosis. In the last three years, we have quadrupled production thanks to the modernization of equipment, research into process improvement and even new products.
We also have the Advanced Research Center in Poultry Health, with laboratories in Descalvado and Bastos. In these laboratories, the sector of broilers and laying chicken can have support on the diagnostic and research of avian diseases.
The environmental protection area currently has a unit dedicated to researching methods for detecting contaminants in meat and milk and is already working on the detection of pesticide residues in food.
AgriBrasilis – What is the importance of the scientific activity developed in the environmental protection sector?
Ana Eugênia – Studies on bioindicators, developed by researchers in the area of Environmental Protection at the Institute, are important for monitoring contaminants from agricultural activity in the environment. In addition, the impact of the use of residues from agricultural, urban and industrial activities and their effects on the agricultural ecosystem is evaluated.
Development, optimization and validation of methodologies for analyzing residues of contaminants in food, water, soil and other environmental matrices is strategic for residue monitoring programs and safe food control, related to the maximum allowed levels established by regulatory agencies, including for exportation.
AgriBrasilis – What are the main innovations in the area of animal health presented by the Institute in the last year?
Ana Eugênia – The main technological innovation in 2021, in animal health, was the optimization of immunobiological products produced by the Biological Institute Immunobiological Production Laboratory. New 5 mL tuberculin bottles were approved by the Ministry of Agriculture, as a result of improved filling quality, providing greater product stability and extending its validity from 1 to 2 years. Antigen vials for the diagnosis of brucellosis, with a lower number of doses, were also standardized and are being marketed to meet the needs of smaller livestock farmers.
AgriBrasilis – What are the biggest difficulties in the research sector? And what should be done to improve this area?
Ana Eugênia – The Biological Institute develops research and transfers scientific and technological knowledge to the agricultural business in the areas of animal and plant health, its relations with the environment, aiming at improving the population’s quality of life.
Within the current framework, there will be no qualified human resources to work in the above areas, due to the lack of overlapping generations for knowledge transfer.
Important lines of research have not been continued and others are at risk of being lost due to the lack of replacement of scientific researchers. Lack of replacement of specialized technical staff for the maintenance of collections is beyond the institutional scope, and is critical, since public tenders have not taken place since 2003.