Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Find New Way to Assess Where Cotton-Killing Pests Develop

04.12.2002


In a finding that could have broad implications for farmers’ ability to stop pests from decimating cotton crops, scientists from North Carolina State University and agricultural research stations in the Cotton Belt have developed a new technique to determine where the larvae of certain agricultural pests develop.



The study, which looks at the characteristics of the moths that the larvae turn into, shows that a large majority of late-season moths in the Cotton Belt - specifically Helicoverpa zea, a major pest of cotton commonly known as the cotton bollworm - are not developing on cotton and soybean plants, as the prevailing theory suggests, but are developing instead on plants like corn.

The research suggests that this non-toxic corn, therefore, provides a major refuge for H. zea moths, and as such is critical to halting the evolution of insecticide-immune pests, perhaps more so than existing small cotton refuges.


The scientists published their work in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Although it seems counterintuitive, non-toxic refuges are essential to controlling pests like the cotton bollworm because the pests that come from these refuges have little to no immunity to toxins. It is estimated that about 80 to 95 percent of cotton bollworms are killed by transgenic cotton plants that produce Bt toxin - derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis - leaving a fair number of potentially immune caterpillars moving about. When these immune pests mate with pests from non-toxic plants, offspring are not immune to the Bt toxin, and are likely susceptible to die a Bt toxin-induced death.

The scientists - including NC State’s Dr. Fred Gould, William Neal Reynolds Professor of entomology, and Dr. Neal Blair, professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences; representatives from the USDA’s Southern Crops Research Lab in College Station, Texas, and the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station in Bossier City, La.; and two NC State students -used a novel technique called stable isotope assessment to gauge the origination of moths in late summer. The work was supported by the USDA Biotechnology Risk Assessment Program and the W.M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology.

The scientists compared the ratios of carbon isotopes 13C and 12C in moths captured over three- and four-year periods from August to October in areas of Louisiana and Texas. These so-called stable isotopes are present in every living organism and in the air. Plants with a certain type of photosynthesis - those with C3 physiology, like cotton - are more depleted in 13C relative to 12C than plants with C4 physiology, like corn. Thus, looking at these ratios in moth wing tissue can provide clues to where the moths grew up, the researchers assert.

And knowing where the moths develop gives researchers clues to how refuges - plants that are not treated with insecticides - are working to put the brakes on the evolution of pests that are genetically resistant to insecticides.

Currently, about 60 percent of cotton grown in the Cotton Belt contains Bt toxin. The Environmental Protection Agency allows the planting of 50 percent Bt corn in cotton-growing areas, as opposed to 80 percent Bt corn in regions where cotton is not grown, Gould says. This policy assumes that H. zea moths migrate from the Cotton Belt to northern Corn Belt states in the summer, but do not return in the fall.

But, since less than 50 percent of late-season moths captured in the study were fed as larvae on cotton, they may be migrating from the Corn Belt, Gould says. This means the traditional assumptions about late-season H. zea moths - that they grow up on cotton, migrate to northern Corn Belt states and then die - seem to be wrong.

"Corn is most likely serving as the predominant alternate C4 host for H. zea," the paper asserts. "Currently, less than 25 percent of U.S. corn produces Bt toxin. If, in the future, most field corn planted in the northern and southern United States remains in non-Bt producing varieties, it could serve as a major H. zea refuge. Maintaining the current limit of 50 percent non-Bt corn in cotton-growing areas therefore seems appropriate for maintaining the long-term utility of Bt cotton."

"In the short term, this is good news for cotton farmers," Gould says. "It shows that corn can provide a refuge so cotton farmers don’t have to increase the non-toxic cotton refuge."

Gould says that problems can set in if Bt corn begins becoming ubiquitous in the Corn Belt. Fewer refuge plants - non-Bt corn, in this case - could allow pests’ resistance to Bt toxin to evolve more quickly, he says.

Dr. Fred Gould | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ncsu.edu/news/press_releases/02_12/317.htm

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Researchers discover a new link to fight billion-dollar threat to soybean production
14.02.2017 | University of Missouri-Columbia

nachricht Important to maintain a diversity of habitats in the sea
14.02.2017 | University of Gothenburg

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's fermi finds possible dark matter ties in andromeda galaxy

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Wintering ducks connect isolated wetlands by dispersing plant seeds

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>