Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Medical Students Target Aphids With Insecticide Safe For Humans

Date:
February 15, 2009
Source:
Mayo Clinic
Summary:
Medical scientists are focusing their expertise on a pest that destroys soybeans. The goal is to develop an insecticide that is safe for humans but will kill the soybean aphid, a bug that's been ravaging Minnesota crops.

Soybean aphids (Aphis glycines).
Credit: USDA/Photo by Bamphitlhi Tiroesele

Medical scientists in Minnesota are focusing their expertise on a pest that destroys soybeans. The goal of the Minnesota Partnership team is to develop an insecticide that is safe for humans but will kill the soybean aphid, a bug that's been ravaging Minnesota crops. Their findings appear in the journal Public Library of Science -- PLoS One.

"We've shown in the laboratory that we're 99 percent effective in inhibiting a key enzyme in two aphids, one that damages soybeans," says Stephen Brimijoin, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic researcher on the team. "This means we should be able to stop the insect without harming other animals or humans because the target we're hitting is selective to the aphid."

Dr. Brimijoin collected soybean aphids from demonstration plots at the University of Minnesota Extension facility in Rochester and isolated the key enzyme in the aphids, while Yuan-Ping Pang, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic co-investigator, characterized the molecular structures of the target area.

"We're reporting the development of a small molecule that blocks nearly all acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity in the greenbug and the soybean aphid, but without inhibiting AChE in humans," says Dr. Pang. "Now we need to see how well that translates to the field." Overseeing that phase will be David Ragsdale, Ph.D., an entomologist at the University of Minnesota and another co-investigator. The researchers estimate that phase of the project will begin in a few weeks.

"Our organization is excited about this project and closely awaiting the outcome," says Gene Stoel, research chair, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. "This is a great example of how Minnesota's medical and agriculture sectors can work together for everyone."

Currently, no insecticide can counter the soybean aphid, according to Dr. Brimijoin. Various aphid species adapt to organophosphate insecticides and those chemicals can often prove toxic to birds and humans. Instead of targeting serine, as has been the case for decades, the small molecule developed by Dr. Pang focuses on a novel cystine target called Cys289, to which aphids and other insects cannot develop a resistance. Only 6 micromoles in size, the molecule caused "irreversible inhibition" in the greenbug. It had the same impact on the soybean aphid, though that data was too recent to include in the article.

The Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics has been funding research aimed at disease for five years. The soybean aphid research shows the broader benefits of modern genomic and molecular science in Minnesota's top medical research institutions. It also demonstrates an expansion from treating or curing patients to preventing diseases through proactively improving environmental health.

Other support for the soybean aphid research came from the U.S. Army, the University of Minnesota/Mayo/IBM Collaboration Seed Grant Program and Mayo Clinic. Co-authors of the PLoS One article are Sanjay Singh, Yang Gao, T. Leon Lassiter, and Rajesh Mishra, Ph.D., all of Mayo Clinic; and Kun Yan Zhu, Ph.D., of Kansas State University.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Mayo Clinic. "Medical Students Target Aphids With Insecticide Safe For Humans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090203192433.htm>.
Mayo Clinic. (2009, February 15). Medical Students Target Aphids With Insecticide Safe For Humans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090203192433.htm
Mayo Clinic. "Medical Students Target Aphids With Insecticide Safe For Humans." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090203192433.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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