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Insect endocrine-based pest management strategies to reduce conventional pesticide use - PS2104

Description
The proposed work aims to understand the endocrine factors that regulate feeding in insect pests of agriculture and horticulture and determine the potential utility of selected invertebrate peptides, peptide hormones, and associated endocrine-disrupting factors for use against representative agricultural pests. The project will identify potential targets and systems as a basis for new methods of invertebrate pest management and explore ways to overcome possible limitations. It will indicate directional leads for new crop protection options that reduce dependence on conventional broad-spectrum toxic plant protection products, such as organophosphate and other insecticides. Where possible, we will confirm, by producing deleterious effects in selected insect pest populations, that endocrine-mediated disruption to insect feeding and growth is a viable route to the development of more environmentally compatible insect pest management strategies.

Insect pests of agriculture cause damage largely through their feeding activity. The most obvious economic effects are the direct destruction and consumption of crops and stored commodities by larvae of many different insect groups, most notably the Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera and Diptera. The feeding of sucking insects, such as the Hemiptera, and the associated transmission of plant viruses also leads to significant losses of crop yield and quality. The protection of crops and commodities against these losses is a major reason for the use of insecticides in U.K. and E.C. agriculture. Concerns about pesticide usage and the potential risk that pesticides present to the environment, non-target species and human health is increasing the pressure to reduce their usage and find less toxic or less harmful alternatives.

Non-neurotoxic factors that can stop pest insect populations from feeding, growing and subsequently developing have long been considered as prime candidates to provide safer, replacement insecticides. The proposed work will provide the Department with strategic research and advice on possible ways to reduce our current dependence on conventional broad-spectrum products. The work represents a crucial step towards demonstrating that biorational alternatives to neurotoxic pesticides could form a viable, environmentally acceptable option and encouraging their future commercial development.
Objective
The primary aim of the proposed work is to understand the key factors and variables affecting the potential utility of selected invertebrate peptides, peptide hormones, and associated endocrine-disruptive factors and technologies for use against representative agricultural pests. The project will identify potential systems and targets as a basis for new methods of invertebrate pest control and explore ways to overcome possible limitations. It will indicate directional leads for new crop protection options to reduce dependence of agriculture and horticulture on conventional broad-spectrum toxic plant protection products. Where possible, we will confirm, by producing deleterious effects in selected insect pest populations, the concept that endocrine-mediated disruption to insect feeding and growth is a viable route to the development of more environmentally compatible insect pest management strategies. The specific objectives of the project are outlined as follows:

1. To identify the key aspects of endocrine regulation of feeding, feeding behaviour and satiety in a representative larval pest insect (tomato moth) and define the physiological mechanisms underlying these endocrine-mediated processes as determinants of the cessation of feeding.

2. To determine the uptake, metabolism and biological activity of selected insect peptides, neuropeptides and related endocrine factors as potential anti-developmental and feeding-inhibitory agents.

3. To demonstrate the potential of selected invertebrate peptides, neuropeptides and derivatives for insect pest management, and to explore the potential of species specificity as a basis for targeted endocrine-mediated disruption.

Project Documents
• Final Report : Insect endocrine-based pest management strategies to reduce conventional pesticide use   (352k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2003

To: 2006

Cost: £461,567
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Central Science Laboratory
Keywords
Arable Farming              
Biological Control              
Biopesticide              
Crop Pests              
Crops              
Farming              
Fields of Study
Pesticide Safety