A lot of research work is going into more targeted tools for taking care of weeds and insects that like to hit your crop yields. The challenge today is to find that target that hits only the key pest, with a lot less impact on non-target plants and insects in the area.
This week BASF and the University of Gottingen announced a new find, that gets pretty techy to explain, but offers the potential for a new target for insect control. It involves something called the transient receptor potential vanilloid, or TRPV, as a target. And the researchers are the first to find an active ingredient that works on this site.
Their work was published in the May 6, 2015 edition of Neuron, and the work has implications for help in better management of current insecticides and future work on pest management.
The researchers found a target for what are called stretch receptors, which are present in insect joints like antennae and legs. The researchers were working with two active ingredients - pymetrozine and pyrifluquinazon. The TRPV channel occurs in certain stretch receptors. Those stretch receptors, by sensing mechanical stimuli, provide insects with their senses of balance, hearing and coordination. Working with two insecticides - which act selectively on those stretch receptors - they activate an ion channel complex formed by the two TRPV channels. In layman's terms, the insecticides overstimulate the stretch receptors, disturbing insect locomotion and feeding, which causes them to die.
Substances with this mode of action are show effective against many plant-sucking pests particularly whiteflies and aphids. In a release, BASF Biologist Vincent Salgado notes: "For instance, we would not want to treat fields with these two substances one after the other. The more you attack one particular target site, the faster insects will become resistant. The findings help us to use insecticides more wisely and more sustainably."
Work continues on insect control, and this breakthrough is a step toward more targeted approaches that can help prevent insect resistance.