Lebanon Reporter

State News

December 3, 2013

Mutant corn may control 'billion-dollar bug'

WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue and University of Illinois researchers have discovered a novel corn mutant whose leaves are highly susceptible to attack by Western corn rootworm beetles, a pest that feeds primarily on corn silks and pollen.

While Western corn rootworm beetles were previously thought to avoid corn leaves based on food-source preference, study of the mutant suggests that normal corn plants have an active defense mechanism that deters the beetles from feeding on their foliage. Identifying this mechanism could lead to new strategies for controlling Western corn rootworm, which is the most destructive insect pest of corn in the U.S.“This opens up a whole new opportunity to understand more about the mechanism of defense in corn to control this beetle,” said Gurmukh Johal, professor of botany and plant pathology. Johal and Stephen Moose of Illinois independently discovered the mutant around the same time.“In identifying the genetic pathway involved in resistance, we can develop better ways of controlling this pest without having to use insecticides,” Johal said.

Western corn rootworm causes more than $1 billion damage a year in yield losses and control costs in the U.S., earning it the nickname “the billion-dollar bug.” The rootworm larvae chew on the roots of corn plants while the adult beetles eat the silks and pollen. Current control measures include crop rotation, transgenic corn plants and insecticides. But a rise in continuous corn systems, increased rootworm resistance to transgenic plants and changes in rootworm behavior have rendered these management strategies less effective.

Because the leaves of the corn mutant are singularly attractive to Western corn rootworm beetles, the mutant could be used in a “push-pull” pest-management strategy – luring the beetles to a specific location where they can be controlled, said Christian Krupke, assistant professor of entomology and co-author of the study.“Once you can get them where you want, you can use efficient, cost-effective ways of controlling them, either by directly targeting and eliminating them or by keeping them away from your main crop,” he said.

Text Only
State News

Featured items
Click below to browse and order photos


Photos from June 2014

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide