Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Birth Control For Cockroaches Might Result From Gene Discovery By Cornell Researchers

Date:
March 29, 2000
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Cornell University researchers have taken a first step in developing safe and effective birth control for America's number-one household pest, the cockroach. The entomologists say they have identified and cloned a key gene in the reproductive system of the male cockroach.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Cornell University researchers have taken a first step in developing safe and effective birth control for America's number-one household pest, the cockroach. The entomologists say they have identified and cloned a key gene in the reproductive system of the male cockroach.

Related Articles


Success in cloning five P450 genes from the German cockroach was announced by Zhimou Wen today (March 28) at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) at the Moscone Convention Center, in San Francisco. Wen is a graduate student working in the laboratory of Jeffrey G. Scott, professor of entomology in Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

"Cockroaches - specifically, the brown-banded and the German cockroaches - are the number-one urban household pest in terms of frequency," Scott explained in an interview before the ACS meeting. "They are the target of tons of neurotoxin pesticides every year but they keep coming back for more. What we really need is an effective, nontoxic treatment - a birth-control method - to reduce cockroach populations without bothering other insects or humans, either."

Scott admitted surprise that one of the genes - named CYP6L1 - has a reproductive function, although exactly what that function is remains uncertain. The entomology professor and graduate student have been studying German cockroach (Blattella germanica) genes in the P450 "superfamily" of genes, Scott said, noting that virtually all living organisms - from bacteria to plants to mammals, including humans - have P450 genes and their functions are not well understood. The two researchers were the first to clone P450 genes from the cockroach, then tried to learn at which stage of the insect's development the genes are "expressed." This, in turn, could lead to the identification of specific proteins with definite metabolic functions.

Initially their tests showed that CYP6L1 was expressed in adult cockroaches, while subsequent tests found the gene expression only in male adults, and finally, only in the male cockroach's testes and accessory glands.

"In other words, this gene is adult-male-reproductive-tissue-specific," Scott said. "We still don't know what hormone this gene is regulating, but this is enough of a clue to get us started. We're pretty sure the hormone is essential for reproduction. If we can knock out the CYP6L1 protein, we can make the pest struggle to reproduce."

The entomologists don't plan to tinker with the cockroach genes, Scott said. Rather, their strategy is to identify the hormone or other protein that is produced by expression of the insect's P450 gene, and then develop chemical inhibitors of the proteins that would be included in roach bait.

"Don't expect roach birth control on your store shelves tomorrow," Scott cautioned. "We probably have several years' work ahead of us." For one thing, the entomologist observed, the cockroach is a much more complex organism, genetically speaking, than the thoroughly studied fruit fly.

But the gene-based approach to pest control will be worth the effort, Scott said, if the result is a pesticide that afflicts only the specific pest and not other insects and even animals. One of the first tasks, he said, will be to learn if the P450 genes in the other common roach, the brown-banded cockroach, also are expressed only in the male reproductive tissue.

In the meantime, the household cockroach is in no danger of extinction and researchers have plenty of experimental subjects. The last time Scott and Wen needed cockroaches, they went to some old Cornell graduate-student housing units that were slated for demolition. There they found both the brown-banded and German types.

The Cornell study of cockroach genes was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Hatch funds and by a grant from Sigma Xi, the scientific honorary society.

Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or availability.

-- Cornell Entomology Dept.: http://www.cals.cornell.edu/dept/entom/default.htm

-- University of Florida cockroach art and info: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IG082


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Birth Control For Cockroaches Might Result From Gene Discovery By Cornell Researchers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000329080155.htm>.
Cornell University. (2000, March 29). Birth Control For Cockroaches Might Result From Gene Discovery By Cornell Researchers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000329080155.htm
Cornell University. "Birth Control For Cockroaches Might Result From Gene Discovery By Cornell Researchers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000329080155.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins