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 Raiding the rape field
23.05.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht New technique reveals details of forest fire recovery
17.05.2018 | DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

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: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When corals eat plastics

24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Surgery involving ultrasound energy found to treat high blood pressure

24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering

First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR

24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>