Advance promises to expand biological control of crop pests

Feb 13, 2013

A new discovery promises to allow expanded use of a mainstay biological pest control method, which avoids the health, environmental and pest-resistance concerns of traditional insecticides, scientists are reporting. The advance toward broadening applicability of the so-called sterile insect technique (SIT) appears in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology.

Luke Alphey and colleagues explain that the Lepidoptera, a large family of insects with a caterpillar stage, cause widespread damage worldwide to cotton; apples, pears and other fruits; and vegetable crops like broccoli, and cabbage. Farmers usually battle these pests with traditional insects, with little use of SIT, despite its many advantages. SIT involves mass release of radiation-sterilized insects, which mate but produce no offspring, thus reducing the population of pests. Alphey's team focused on eliminating major drawbacks that discourage wider use of SIT: They include difficulty in producing male-only without the use of radiation, which reduces their ability to compete with wild males for mates.

The scientists describe development of a synthetic genetic system that produces vigorous adult males with lethal information encoded in their sex-determination genes. The males mate, and all the female offspring die, thus reducing the pest populations. They developed the "lethal genetic sexing system" in two pests, the pink bollworm, which damages , and the diamondback moth, which attacks broccoli, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetable crops. The approach could be used on other pests, as well, they state.

Explore further: Fish detection system for toxins wins Chinese company invention award

More information: DOI: 10.1021/sb300123m

Related Stories

Gene-engineered flies are pest solution

Jan 27, 2009

For the first time, male flies of a serious agricultural pest, the medfly, have been bred to generate offspring that die whilst they are still embryos. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Biology describe the ...

New insect birth control strategy zaps cotton pests

Nov 07, 2010

Using pests as part of an insect birth control program helps to get rid of them, UA researchers find. A new approach that combines the planting of pest-resistant cotton and releasing large numbers of sterile ...

Trouble on the horizon for GM crops?

Jun 20, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Pests are adapting to genetically modified crops in unexpected ways, researchers have discovered. The findings underscore the importance of closely monitoring and countering pest resistance to ...

New bacteria toxins against resistant insect pests

Oct 19, 2011

Toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria (Bt toxins) are used in organic and conventional farming to manage pest insects. Sprayed as pesticides or produced in genetically modified plants, Bt toxins, us ...

Recommended for you

Fish found in suspected tsunami debris boat quarantined

Apr 17, 2015

The wreckage of a fishing boat that appears to be debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami was carrying some unexpected passengers—fish from Japanese waters—when it was spotted off the Oregon coast.

Roadkill hot spots identified in California

Apr 17, 2015

An interactive map shows how California's state highway system is strewn with roadkill "hot spots," which are identified in a newly released report by the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Da ...

Tagging and scanning for feral pigs

Apr 17, 2015

Innovative research using GPS tracking and thermal imagery is being used in an attempt to manage the destructive behaviour of feral pigs in the south-west.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.