Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Moths trapped with plant-produced sex pheromone

Date:
February 26, 2014
Source:
Kansas State University
Summary:
By engineering plants that emitted sex pheromones that mimic those naturally produced by two species of moths, researchers have demonstrated that an effective, environmentally friendly, plant-based method of insect control is possible. While a proof-of-concept experiment, engineering plants to be insect pheromone-producing factories creates an environmentally friendly alternative to pesticides as well as an easier and less expensive method of synthesizing insect pheromones

This is a magnification of a burning bush seed that supplied the enzyme acTAG. The enzyme enabled researchers to engineer plants that emitted sex pheromones that mimic those naturally produced by two species of moths.
Credit: Timothy Durrett

A collaborative experiment involving a Kansas State University biochemist may mark the beginning of an effective, environmentally friendly plant-based method of insect control.

Timothy Durrett, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, was part of the collaboration that used various plant and moth enzymes to engineer plants that emitted sex pheromones that mimic those naturally produced by two species of moths.

The research recently appeared in the journal Nature Communications, "A plant factory for moth pheromone production." The study was led by Christer Löfstedt of Lund University in Sweden and also included researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Pheromones are chemicals released from the body of animals and insects that are used to attract mates or relay danger. Currently, insect pests are managed with pesticides and synthetic pheromones -- the latter of which confuse the insect and prevent it from breeding or enable it to be trapped.

"While these pheromones can be made chemically, it can be a toxic process to produce them," Durrett said. "What we demonstrated in this study is a more environmentally friendly approach that avoids the need to use toxic chemicals and eliminates hazardous byproducts from producing synthetic pheromones. The plant just handles everything."

The study focused on the bird-cherry ermine moth and the orchard ermine moth -- two insects that feed on the leaves of orchard trees and, as caterpillars, can strip trees of their bark.

Durrett helped the Swedish researchers use enzymes from plants and moths to create a biological pathway that made it possible for plants to produce the moths' sex pheromones. He contributed an enzyme from the burning bush plant that performed the final step in the synthesis process, essentially turning plants into pheromone production factories.

Once the correct combination of enzymes was finalized, researchers modified Nicotiana benthamiana, an Australian plant that is closely related to tobacco plant.

The result was plants that produced pheromones that mimicked the sex pheromones of both moth species.

The Swedish researchers baited moth traps with the plant-produced pheromone. They found that each trap attracted an average of 130 male moths -- half the number of catches possible with synthetic pheromones but enough to demonstrate the effectiveness of the biosynthetic method.

While a proof-of-concept experiment, engineering plants to be insect pheromone-producing factories creates an environmentally friendly alternative to pesticides as well as an easier and less expensive method of synthesizing insect pheromones, Durrett said.

"None of the enzymes that were put together would interact with each other naturally, so it was really exciting to see this pathway work and be as effective as it is," Durrett said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Bao-Jian Ding, Per Hofvander, Hong-Lei Wang, Timothy P. Durrett, Sten Stymne, Christer Löfstedt. A plant factory for moth pheromone production. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4353

Cite This Page:

Kansas State University. "Moths trapped with plant-produced sex pheromone." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226125237.htm>.
Kansas State University. (2014, February 26). Moths trapped with plant-produced sex pheromone. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226125237.htm
Kansas State University. "Moths trapped with plant-produced sex pheromone." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226125237.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) — Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. 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:
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