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 Microjet generator for highly viscous fluids
13.02.2018 | Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology

nachricht Sweet route to greater yields
08.02.2018 | Rothamsted Research

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: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>