Biotech Updates

Flavonoids from Sorghum Plants Kill Fall Armyworm on Corn

August 31, 2022
When sprayed on the leaves of corn, sorghum flavonoids in this extract stunt the growth of fall armyworm and often kill the pest. Photo Source: Penn State

Researchers from The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) report in a new study that flavonoids produced by sorghum leaves show promising results in combating fall armyworm larvae. When sprayed on the leaves of corn, sorghum flavonoids stunt the growth of fall armyworm and often kill the pest.

The research group led by Surinder Chopra, professor of maize genetics at Penn State has studied mutant lines of corn that overproduce the flavonoids and has developed new lines that combine flavonoid overproduction with other desirable traits. Chopra's lab has taken the gene that produces a precursor compound of flavonoids in sorghum and inserted this gene into corn to develop more resilient plants that can discourage feeding by fall armyworms and possibly other pests.

In the study, the researchers showed in a three-part experiment that sorghum and corn flavonoids affect the survival of fall armyworm larvae. Their findings, recently published in the Journal of Pest Science, revealed that fall armyworm larvae reared in the lab on an artificial diet supplemented with sorghum flavonoids showed significant mortality and decreased larvae body weight. To compare the levels of fall armyworm survival and feeding damage, the researchers developed corn breeding lines and grew four related lines of corn at Penn State's Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, two genetically modified lines to produce flavonoids, and two not producing flavonoids. Chopra said the feeding assays showed significantly high mortality of larvae that were fed on flavonoid-producer lines compared to non-flavonoid lines or the wild types.

For more details, read the article on the Penn State website.

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