Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Farmers don’t need a new superstar toxin to fight bugs

26.10.2004


A new Michael Jordan of toxins isn’t required to increase crop protection against bugs as long as the right genes are strategically placed to take their shots at destructive insects, researchers report.

Plants modified with protectant genes designed to kill resistant insects can extend the usefulness of currently used pest-control methods and delay the development of pesticide-resistant bugs, according to Purdue University scientists and their collaborators from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Monsanto Co., the University of Illinois and the University of California, Davis. The researchers’ findings appear in this month’s issue of the Journal of Theoretical Biology. "We always thought that it would take a Michael Jordan of toxins - a superstar of toxins to effectively halt insect resistance to the current generation of insecticides," said Barry Pittendrigh, a Purdue associate professor of entomology and lead author of the study. "We found that moderately effective genetically engineered protectants used in plants in the buffer zone around the main crops can play a major role in insect control, and they should be easier to identify than highly effective protectants. "You don’t find a superstar very often, but it may not be difficult to find good players, or worthwhile insect-control agents."

Farmers who use bioengineered crop protectants also use a buffer, or refuge, around the outside of fields that contains plants lacking the high-toxicity genetic modification in the main field that kills most insects. The refuge, usually about 20 percent of the acreage planted, delays development of insects resistant to the main-field, high-toxicity protectants, but some individuals in the destructive insect group have genes that allow them to survive.



Using a computer model, the scientists determined that within a refuge, one could add a moderate plant protectant, or journeyman player, that kills 30 percent to 50 percent of insects that carry a rare resistance gene. If developed to a practical level, equipping the refuge with a moderately toxic protectant gene could dramatically delay development of new resistant insects that could attack the main crop, Pittendrigh said. "When we first started this project, we didn’t believe that you could use a genetic toxin that was effective in killing a moderate number of resistant insects, so this finding was very surprising," he said.

Over time, insects exposed to specific plant protectants undergo genetic changes so the highly effective genetic toxins no longer affect them. This latest research suggests it may be easier than previously thought to find commercially viable protectants to control these resistant insects because moderate-toxicity protectant genes are much easier to discover than high-toxicity superstars. The specific problem the researchers attacked is that insects susceptible to the high-toxicity genetic protectant used in the main field crops can survive, breed and reproduce in the refuge. Farmers, who now use crops with high-toxicity protectant genes to fight bugs, don’t use those plants in the refuge. So the crops in the border area are susceptible to insect attack.

When susceptible insects from the refuge breed with each other or with resistant insects, the high-toxicity genetically protected plants in the main fields still kill most of the bugs’ offspring.

A moderately effective genetic modification inserted into crops specifically to kill resistant insects that survive in the refuge can lengthen the usefulness of the primary genetic protectant used in the main field, Pittendrigh said. These specially designed refuge-area protectants create a phenomenon called negative cross-resistance because the moderate-toxicity protectant kills the insects that are resistant to the primary protectant. "If we could discover and use moderately effective negative cross-resistance compounds in a refuge, it would work just like an oil filter in a car," Pittendrigh said. "Like the oil filter removing impurities, the refuge with negative cross-resistance protectants could eliminate many of the genetically resistant insects that otherwise might invade the main crop. "We used mathematical models to test this concept, and we were very surprised by the findings. Although these results are exciting, we are well aware that a number of issues must be addressed before this approach can become practically applicable."

The other researchers are Larry Murdock, Purdue entomology professor; Patrick Gaffney, formerly of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Joseph Huesing, Monsanto Co. research entomologist; David Onstad, University of Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences; and Richard Roush, University of California, Davis.

The Purdue Department of Entomology provided the funding for this research.

Susan Steeves | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.purdue.edu

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

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>