Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sterile flies save food crops, millions of dollars in eradication efforts

Date:
February 26, 2014
Source:
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Summary:
Irradiated, sterile flies dropped over seaports and agricultural areas to mate with unsuspecting females save food crops and millions of dollars in prevented infestations and the ensuing eradication efforts. But blasting these secret-suitor insects with radiation via electron beams, X-rays or gamma-rays, tends to make them weaker than typical males -- and not so appealing to females as possible mates. What sterile-insect operations need is the insect world's version of George Clooney: 52 years old, gray-haired and still dazzling the ladies.

University of Florida insect physiologist Daniel Hahn displays the type of flies used to protect valued crops, in what is known as the sterile insect technique.
Credit: UF/IFAS photo by Marisol Amador

Irradiated, sterile flies dropped over seaports and agricultural areas to mate with unsuspecting females save food crops and millions of dollars in prevented infestations and the ensuing eradication efforts. But blasting these secret-suitor insects with radiation via electron beams, X-rays or gamma-rays, tends to make them weaker than typical males -- and not so appealing to females as possible mates.

Related Articles


What sterile-insect operations need, says University of Florida insect physiologist Daniel Hahn, is the insect world's version of George Clooney: 52 years old, gray-haired and still dazzling the ladies.

Hahn, an associate professor with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and his former postdoctoral associate, Giancarlo López-Martínez, now an assistant professor at New Mexico State University, describe in research publications this month and last, that sterilizing insects in a low-oxygen environment helps create suitors who more closely resemble the suave Clooney than do those sterilized in a normal-oxygen environment.

"Our males (insects) are not only more sexually competitive, they are maintaining their sexual competitiveness and their virility, into old age," Hahn said, "and that has the potential to make them much better biological control agents."

The sterile insect technique, or SIT, has been used for decades and is considered a much preferable alternative to spraying pesticides over urban or suburban areas near major ports. In this biological control method, large numbers of sterile, male insects are released to compete with wild males for the attention of invasive wild females.

A female duped into accepting a sterile male would then find herself without offspring, thus trimming the population and its threat to the state's important agricultural crops. The technique has been used effectively against the Mediterranean fruit fly, called the Medfly, and the cattle-infesting screw-worm fly, among others.

Florida spends roughly $6 million a year using SIT to prevent Mediterranean fruit fly infestations, while California spends about $17 million a year. Because of the inherent dangers in importing even one Mediterranean fruit fly into the state, in their recent studies, López-Martínez and Hahn investigated the physiological effects of applying low-oxygen treatments prior to and during irradiation sterilization on two other plant pests: the Caribbean fruit fly and the invasive cactus moth.

The "low-oxygen effect" has been known for decades, but the physiological basis for it had never been rigorously tested or analyzed, Hahn said. They suspected, and found, that under the low-oxygen conditions, the insects' cells would produce antioxidants that can help better protect them from the off-target radiation damage.

Some operations that rear and sterilize insects, such as one in Guatemala that produces many of the sterile medflies dropped over Florida's major ports roughly every seven days, do employ low-oxygen conditions, called hypoxia or anoxia. But many others don't, he said, including those who rear and sterilize the cactus moth.

The reseachers found using a low-oxygen environment during sterilization boosted the sterile males' longevity as well as their ability to attract and successfully mate. They found that the positive effects of low-oxygen treatments even extended into their 'old age' -- in the insects' case, about 30 days under cushy laboratory conditions.

Treatments that both improve the sexual performance of sterile males and maintain high performance longer in older males can substantially increase the effectiveness and decrease the economic costs of SIT programs, Hahn said.

The January paper was published by PLoS One, and the February paper in the Journal of Economic Entomology. Hahn and López-Martínez were joined as authors of that paper by James Carpenter of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Tifton, Ga., and Stephen Hight of the USDA-ARS at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The original article was written by Mickie Anderson. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Giancarlo López-Martínez, Daniel A. Hahn. Early Life Hormetic Treatments Decrease Irradiation-Induced Oxidative Damage, Increase Longevity, and Enhance Sexual Performance during Old Age in the Caribbean Fruit Fly. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (1): e88128 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088128
  2. Giancarlo López-Martínez, James E. Carpenter, Stephen D. Hight, Daniel A. Hahn. Low-Oxygen Atmospheric Treatment Improves the Performance of Irradiation-Sterilized Male Cactus Moths Used in SIT. Journal of Economic Entomology, 2014; 107 (1): 185 DOI: 10.1603/EC13370

Cite This Page:

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. "Sterile flies save food crops, millions of dollars in eradication efforts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226125239.htm>.
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (2014, February 26). Sterile flies save food crops, millions of dollars in eradication efforts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226125239.htm
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. "Sterile flies save food crops, millions of dollars in eradication efforts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226125239.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) — Learn how to make a mixed green salad topped with a pan-seared camembert cheese in only a minute! Music: Courtesy of Audio Network. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) — Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) — It looks like this 2-month-old Husky puppy and the family ferret are going to be the best of friends. Look at how much fun they&apos;re having together! Credit to &apos;Vira&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Buzz60 (Jan. 26, 2015) — Swiss scientists build a new drone that can both fly and walk, modeling it after the movements of common vampire bats. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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