Pheromones would enable controlling corn pest
Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Natural Products Laboratory researchers in Medellín are using corn and rice Spodoptera frugiperda moths, identifying their pheromones and using them as biological control.Medellín, 04 de mayo de 2016 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
The initiative of the research team includes engineering insecticides based on natural extracts, not impacting beneficial insects or other plants.
“Two biotypes of Spodoptera frugiperda are populations of the same species which have genetic differences and reproduce among themselves. However it seems this insect is turning into two species as they have exhibited reproductive isolation, in other words they are no longer reproducing among each other. These insects display differential resistance to insecticides and therefore each act differently. In ones it is effective while in others in has no effect,” said UNal-Medellín Forests and Conservations master’s candidate Norelsy Cañas Hoyos.
The proposal of the laboratory is using pheromones (chemical behavioral acting agents) to effectively control the pest.
According to Faculty of Sciences Associate Professor Tatiana Lobo Echeverry, when it comes to nocturnal insects, communication systems basically rely on pheromones. “What we are doing in the lab is extracting the sexual glands of virgin females of both biotypes and using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) methods to identify the different types of pheromones as well as the respective amount in each sample. Then with this information we carry out comparisons,” she added.
The importance of pheromones is not limited so these moths can reproduce among themselves, but they are also used as monitoring tools so researchers may become cognizant if a species is present, determine the size of a population or design pheromone traps. Completely identifying the components of the pheromones of S. frugiperda biotypes can help comprehensive pest control programs and diminish use of chemical insecticides in crops using traps which would only attract this pest in particular.
Currently controlling this insect mainly depends on synthetic chemical insecticides which cause environmental pollution, soil, water and environmental contamination, as well as death of other beneficial insects and impact to human health.
In contrast to synthetic insecticides other pest control alternatives include natural products such as plant extracts or pheromones to produce specific traps which confuse males and are environmentally friendly.
“This could be a model insect as the result of this research project could be applied to other species. Furthermore it also contributes to determine aspects related to speciation and pheromone divergence in other species. This is like using a laboratory mouse,” said Cañas.(Por: Fin/SLGS/MLA/APBL