Biotech Updates

Experts Discover Corn Mutant that can Resist Rootworm Beetles

November 27, 2013

Researchers from Purdue and the University of Illinois have discovered a 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.

Guri Johal, one of the key researchers of the study said that further research is being done on the possibility of using the mutant in pest control strategies and identifying the genetic pathway in normal corn plants. He added that the genes could be used to make corn plants more pest-resistant.

See Purdue University's news release at