An international research project funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 program will develop new pest control methods that neither cause environmental pollution nor harm beneficial insects.
The economic cost of agricultural pests is extremely difficult to estimate, but biological threats such as insects and disease account for around 40% of all crop losses globally. The rising need for food worldwide necessitates ever more effective methods in the fight against agricultural pests. By 2017, the world is expected to spend more than 65 billion USD annually on pesticides. At the same time, there is a pressing need to develop “greener” pesticides that target damaging insects while sparing beneficial ones. An international consortium of scientists, including participants from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Cologne headed by Professor Reinhard Predel, is hoping to develop new, eco-friendly pesticides that will render numerous pest insects less destructive. Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation fund, has granted 7 million euros to the project nEUROSTRESSPEP, which will study developments in the hormone systems of selected insect species. The researchers are aiming to influence these systems with artificial hormone-like substances, so called peptidomimetics. Neuropeptides are a highly adjustable group of hormones that help the brain and tissues communicate with each other. The project will be launched in June and run for four years.
“At the Cologne Biocenter, we have outstanding conditions for structural clarification and only need a single specimen of an insect to be able to identify up to 100 neuropeptides found in the species,” Predel explains his institute’s role in the project. “These questions perfectly fit into our research focus.” The pests being targeted in this study include moths, locusts, aphids, flies and beetles, which either damage crops directly through eating, or indirectly by spreading plant viruses.
Traditionally employed pesticides are poisons that make no difference between damaging and beneficial insects or spiders. Moreover, despite the use of these chemicals, individual specimens of the insects generally survive and grow resistant to the pesticide. Their natural predators are often affected much more severely because they exist in significantly fewer numbers. As a result, in the next generation the insect population explodes because the number of natural predators has been diminished. “Our goal is to reduce the fitness of the damaging insects to prevent a population explosion,” Predel says. Other insects are not affected. “We will be able to specifically target the insect whose population we want to diminish; the relation between natural predator and insect remains unaltered and beneficial insects such as honeybees are no longer harmed.”
To develop artificial neuropeptides, the researchers have to identify the natural prototypes. “We will investigate if the species in question have unique specialized systems. In short: we want to use the unique nature of the species as the point of application.” Neuropeptides are very well suited for this strategy, as species often have unique neuropeptide sequences. Once the scientists have identified these sequences, they can develop structurally similar artificial messenger substances and stabilize them in such a way that the insects cannot break them down quickly. “If these artificial hormones cannot be broken down, the organism is destabilized. Its water balance, reproduction and nutrition intake are disturbed.”
Read more: Greener pest control
The Latest on: Greener pest control
via Google News
The Latest on: Greener pest control
- Pest plant finds new life helping ag growthon June 18, 2021 at 7:55 pm
FERAL olive trees in national parks could help support grape production at McLaren Vale vineyards under a new pilot program.
- Armadillo Removal Costs in Jacksonville, FL in 2021on June 18, 2021 at 5:43 am
Looking for top Armadillo Removal professionals in your area? Get a free estimate on any project from our pre-screened contractors today!
- The box tree moth is the next big garden pest you'll need to fight. Here's how to do iton June 18, 2021 at 3:04 am
It’s a good idea to know what the little beasts look like and how to spot the characteristic signs because there are no known predators of this moth.
- Maine Bans Consumer Use of Neonicotinoid Insecticides, with Some Exceptionson June 17, 2021 at 9:01 pm
As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to drag its feet on protective regulation of neonicotinoid pesticides, states continue to step up to restrict their use. In April, the Maine ...
- Classic cars & passionate gear heads come to Joplinon June 17, 2021 at 6:31 pm
There was no shortage of cool cars at the 5th Annual Route 66 Hot-Rod Mayhem car show at Joplin’s Third Thursday celebration, and many of the classic rides had some cool stories and cool owners ...
- Getting the message out on IPMon June 17, 2021 at 9:50 am
When describing integrated pest management (IPM) techniques, recording when you do not take action, such as not applying a chemical, could be just as important as noting when you do.
- 10 Products That Help You Get Rid of Dust Miteson June 17, 2021 at 8:41 am
Dust mites trigger allergy and asthma symptoms in many people. Here are the pillow and mattress covers, vacuum cleaners, detergents, and sprays that can help you kill dust mites. The post 10 Products ...
- Russian wheat aphids track weston June 15, 2021 at 4:36 pm
Western Australian grain growers have been urged to start monitoring crops for the pest, Russian wheat aphid, which is already active this season...Read More ...
- Seed keepers in Turkey revive old farming methods to confront new climate threatson June 14, 2021 at 11:30 am
Across the Mediterranean, gardeners work with heirloom seed varieties to adapt with rapidly changing conditions.
- Florida gardening: Tired of mowing the grass?on June 13, 2021 at 6:00 am
Groundcovers offer an alternative to turf and can reduce resource inputs from water amount and fertilizer required to the amount of time spent mowing.
via Bing News