Medical scientists in Minnesota are focusing their expertise on a pest that destroys soybeans. The goal of the Minnesota Partnership team is to develop an insecticide that is safe for humans but will kill the soybean aphid, a bug that's been ravaging Minnesota crops. Their findings appear in the journal Public Library of Science -- PLoS One.
"We've shown in the laboratory that we're 99 percent effective in inhibiting a key enzyme in two aphids, one that damages soybeans," says Stephen Brimijoin, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic researcher on the team. "This means we should be able to stop the insect without harming other animals or humans because the target we're hitting is selective to the aphid."
Dr. Brimijoin collected soybean aphids from demonstration plots at the University of Minnesota Extension facility in Rochester and isolated the key enzyme in the aphids, while Yuan-Ping Pang, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic co-investigator, characterized the molecular structures of the target area.
"We're reporting the development of a small molecule that blocks nearly all acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity in the greenbug and the soybean aphid, but without inhibiting AChE in humans," says Dr. Pang. "Now we need to see how well that translates to the field." Overseeing that phase will be David Ragsdale, Ph.D., an entomologist at the University of Minnesota and another co-investigator. The researchers estimate that phase of the project will begin in a few weeks.
"Our organization is excited about this project and closely awaiting the outcome," says Gene Stoel, research chair, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. "This is a great example of how Minnesota's medical and agriculture sectors can work together for everyone."
Currently, no insecticide can counter the soybean aphid, according to Dr. Brimijoin. Various aphid species adapt to organophosphate insecticides and those chemicals can often prove toxic to birds and humans. Instead of targeting serine, as has been the case for decades, the small molecule developed by Dr. Pang focuses on a novel cystine target called Cys289, to which aphids and other insects cannot develop a resistance. Only 6 micromoles in size, the molecule caused "irreversible inhibition" in the greenbug. It had the same impact on the soybean aphid, though that data was too recent to include in the article.
The Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics has been funding research aimed at disease for five years. The soybean aphid research shows the broader benefits of modern genomic and molecular science in Minnesota's top medical research institutions. It also demonstrates an expansion from treating or curing patients to preventing diseases through proactively improving environmental health.
Robert Nellis | EurekAlert!
New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge
Spectrally narrow x-ray pulses may be “sharpened” by purely mechanical means. This sounds surprisingly, but a team of theoretical and experimental physicists developed and realized such a method. It is based on fast motions, precisely synchronized with the pulses, of a target interacting with the x-ray light. Thereby, photons are redistributed within the x-ray pulse to the desired spectral region.
A team of theoretical physicists from the MPI for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg has developed a novel method to intensify the spectrally broad x-ray...
Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.
Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
28.07.2017 | Health and Medicine
28.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.07.2017 | Life Sciences