One of the most damaging crop pests, the corn earworm, may be outwitting efforts to control it by making structural changes in a single metabolic protein, but new insights uncovered by molecular modeling could pave the way for more efficient insecticides, say researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The modeled structure of the CYP6B8 protein in the corn earworm (Helicoverpa
zea). A potential substrate binding cavity, in green, where insecticides or plant defense chemicals can be detoxified, is shown above the heme, the small complex that includes the red sphere at its center
Photo courtesy of Jerome Baudry
In a study that compared the ability of corn earworms (Helicoverpa zea) and black swallowtail butterflies (Papilio polyxenes) to neutralize insecticides and plant defense allelochemicals that target insect herbivores, researchers focused on the insectsÕ primary detoxifying cytochrome P450 enzymes.
The study was published online Monday (Feb. 23) in advance of regular publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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