Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Clay-clad corpses kill crop pests

21.05.2002


Pellets of rotting moths could keep weevils off oranges.


All wrapped up: dead moths make slow-release anti-pest pellets.
© US Dep. Agriculture


Fresh from a corpse, worms are more infective.
© © US Dep. Agriculture



Mummified rotting cadavers could be a cost-effective way to combat soil pests, suggest scientists at the US Department of Agriculture. Citrus crops, cranberries and ornamental shrubs all stand to benefit.

Bacteria in the guts of roundworms grown inside dead wax moths can emerge to kill other soil insects, including the black vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus), a serious pest of plants in nurseries.


The USDA’s Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, Georgia, is coating dead moths in clay and starch to turn them into slow-release anti-pest pellets. One of these biological time bombs could keep a potted plant pest-free for months.

"Using cadavers means you don’t waste time or money harvesting roundworms," says Ed Lewis, who studies insects at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia. Wax moths are readily available and cheap: they are already commercially bred for fish bait.

Citrus farmers currently spray their fields with water containing roundworms, properly called nematodes. These worms are either grown in moth cadavers and captured in a water bath or raised in artificial media.

"Worms fresh out of a cadaver are 10 times more infective than those developed in artificial media," says David Shapiro-Ilan, a member of the USDA team. A chemical in the cadaver is believed to increase their infectivity.

Previous trials of ’dead body delivery’ floundered because of the corpses’ lack of structural integrity. Like most rotting things, they fell apart before reaching the greenhouse or field.

The new clay casing keeps the bloated cadavers together until soil water dissolves it. Then tens of thousands of nematodes slowly crawl out. When the worms (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) enter soil pests through the mouth or anus, their resident bacteria (Photorhabdus luminescens) emerge and produce insecticidal proteins.

Farmers and nurserymen will probably need to lay down pellets quite frequently as the distribution of nematodes is patchy, and they can disappear within weeks.

Field trials are underway, and have already captured the interest of industry. The researchers have signed an agreement with H&T Alternative Controls in Perry, Georgia, to produce the nematodes and infected cadavers.

Nematodes aren’t often thought of as soil’s good guys. Some are themselves pests, infecting the roots of many commercial crops. Most are benign but important parts of the soil’s food web. Roughly 30 of the 25,000 known species are heralded for the insecticidal abilities of their associated bacteria.

VIRGINIA GEWIN | © Nature News Service

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht 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

nachricht Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

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...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

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...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion

24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists announce the quest for high-index materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>