Biotech Updates

Shutting Down Reproductive Ability to Control Insect Pests

August 28, 2013

Natalisin, a neuropeptide was recently found by Kansas State University entomologists led by Yoonseong Park to regulate the sexual activity and reproductive ability of insects. According to Park, natalisin is part of insect's and arthropods' genetic network that uses small peptides as neurotransmitters to chemically relay messages throughout the body. In the three insects studied: fruit fly, red flour beetles and silk moths, natalisin was expressed in three to four pairs of neurons in the brain.

Silencing of natalisin in the brains of these insects led to their inability to reproduce as well as reduced their interest in mating. This neuron knockdown will help scientists develop targeted control methods for insect pests that would be environmentally safe. Since natalisin is only found in insects, a future insecticide would not affect plants, animals or humans.

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