Research teams at Nihon Nohyaku Co., Ltd., Bayer CropScience and DuPont have developed two new classes of broad-spectrum insecticides that show promise as a safer and more effective way to fight pest insects that damage food crops. The insecticides, which represent the first synthetic compounds designed to activate a novel insecticide target called the ryanodine receptor, may also help tackle the growing problem of insecticide resistance, the researchers say. They described their studies today at the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
Many of the most widely used insecticides today act on only a handful of exploited targets, including the organophosphates, which block acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that helps control nerve activity. Some experts are concerned that these older, less-selective insecticides could pose heath risks and there’s a growing effort underway to find safer replacements.
Targeting the ryanodine receptor may offer a promising alternative, researchers say. Ryanodine, a natural alkaloid discovered years ago in a species of tropical plant, has been used to study muscle physiology in a wide variety of organisms, including insects and mammals. Ryanodine receptors regulate muscle and nerve activities by modifying levels of internal calcium in these cells. These receptors exist in both mammals and insects but have distinct differences. Researchers have known that ryanodine itself has insecticidal properties, but no synthetic molecules had previously been identified that potently and selectively target these receptors in insects, until now.
Charmayne Marsh | EurekAlert!
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