The basis of a new bioinsecticide is developed to control a pest of banana plantations

March 18, 2014

The Chrysodeixis chalcites moth is regarded as one of the most serious pests in horticultural, ornamental and fruit crops. On the Canary Islands they can be responsible for losses of up to 30 percent in the total weight of banana plantations. Public University of Navarre researcher Alexandra Bernal has tackled the biotechnological developments needed to obtain a new insecticide to control this pest.

Certain micro-organisms can constitute the active matter to develop bioinsecticides used for . In this case, the researcher used a virus of the baculovirus family, which specifically infect invertebrates and naturally regulate the population of insects of this type on the ground. "We selected a virus that displayed the best insecticidal characteristics," she explained. "Using this virus we developed a large-scale production system by means of which we could treat a surface area equivalent to that of a football pitch using just two larvae."

When a larva infected by the virus dies, it constitutes a fresh source of infection because it contaminates the area where the crops are growing. So other larvae that feed in this area may be infected and die in the same way. To verify the effectiveness of the bioinsecticide, the results were compared with those of the chemical and biological routinely used on banana plantations on the Canary Islands. "We saw that our product is between 3 and 4 times more effective. We applied for a patent and established the bases to develop a new bioinsecticide, which is also a very useful tool for sustainable agriculture."

In this respect, controlling the pest using the usual treatments, like , can lead to environmental hazards and leave residues on the surface of the crops, which hampers the marketing of them. "Baculoviruses have generated an interest in the control of , because of their insecticidal capacity and because of their specificity and safety of use," pointed out Alexandra Bernal, "so some have already been registered as insecticides in several parts of the world."

Explore further: Azinphos-methyl alternatives for apple growers against codling moth

More information: Bernal A, Simón O, Williams T, Muñoz D, Caballero P. "A Chrysodeixis chalcites single-nucleocapsid nucleopolyhedrovirus population from the Canary Islands is genotypically structured to maximize survival". 2013.Appl Environ Microbiol. 79(24):7709-18. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.02409-13

Related Stories

Advance promises to expand biological control of crop pests

February 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 ...

Integrated pest management for billbugs in orchardgrass

December 3, 2013

Two weevil species, the bluegrass billbug and the hunting billbug, have caused widespread economic damage to orchardgrass, a cool season grass that is cultivated throughout the United States as a high-value forage crop.

Resistance shapes the discovery of new insecticides

February 17, 2014

Recent news around the world has focused on the dangers of antibiotic resistance. But what of another type of resistance which can also have a huge impact on the population: that to insecticides?

Predators delay pest resistance to Bt crops

March 4, 2014

Crops genetically modified with the bacterium Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) produce proteins that kill pest insects. Steady exposure has prompted concern that pests will develop resistance to these proteins, making Bt plants ...

Recommended for you

Mapping the protein universe

October 9, 2015

To understand how life works, figure out the proteins first. DNA is the architect of life, but proteins are the workhorses. After proteins are built using DNA blueprints, they are constantly at work breaking down and building ...

Gene editing: Research spurs debate over promise vs. ethics

October 9, 2015

The hottest tool in biology has scientists using words like revolutionary as they describe the long-term potential: wiping out certain mosquitoes that carry malaria, treating genetic diseases like sickle-cell, preventing ...


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.