Iowa State University
University of Kentucky
Last Reviewed: 04/18/2017
CAMTech streamlines efforts toward development of technologies for effective management of arthropod pests. Research within the center is aligned with the needs of industry to expedite delivery of new tools for pest management.
Arthropod pests deleteriously impact food production, and human health and welfare on a massive scale. The pests of primary importance change with time following the accidental introduction of new species, development of insecticide resistance in managed pests, changing agricultural and environmental practices, and climate change which provides increased opportunity for some pest species.
CAMTech streamlines the efforts of industry, government and academia toward development of technologies for effective management of arthropod pests. Research within the center is aligned with the needs of industry to expedite delivery of new tools for pest management. The goals of CAMTech are to 1) conduct pre-competitive research and transfer knowledge to industrial partners for in house development, 2) optimize and extend the versatility of current arthropod management technologies, 3) train personnel for potential future employment within industry.
The use of classical chemical insecticides was a major contributing factor to the increase in agricultural productivity in the 20th century and insecticide application is still the primary management practice in use today for the majority of arthropod pests. However, the repeated application of chemicals invariably results in the development of resistance in the targeted pest, with more than 500 species of insects and mites with insecticide resistance recorded. As a result, chemicals that were effectively employed in the past are no longer useful against many pest species. As for chemical insecticides, the repeated use of any pest management tool will eventually lead to resistance. There is a pressing need to find new approaches to manage pests that are resistant to classical chemical insecticides.
Limitations associated with methodology or tools commonly restrict research required for the development or full exploitation of pest control strategies. For example, cell lines are often lacking for primary pest species, with existing cell lines offering limited benefit. The efficacy of current management strategies may be inconsistent requiring increased understanding of the system for resolution.
Novel target sites
There is an urgent need for the development of pest control tools with new target sites. Recent advances in the development of genomic and post genomic technologies provide enhanced means for identifying target sites and for screening assays to rapidly identify chemicals that function through these target sites. Due to the magnitude of economic loss associated with arthropods and the propensity for arthropods to develop resistance to management strategies in current use, there is a critical need for industry to provide arthropod management products with novel modes of action. However, in many cases, there is insufficient understanding of the basic biology of the pest organisms to provide a foundation for such innovative technological solutions.
Pest tolerant transgenic plants
Pest tolerant transgenic plants provide a sustainable alternative approach for crop protection. Toxins derived from the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), have been highly effective for the management of lepidopteran (moth) and coleopteran (beetle) pests when delivered by transgenic plants. Since their initial introduction in the early 1990s, transgenic plants have been widely adopted and pesticide use and crop production costs have both been reduced. However, resistance to Bt toxins has been documented and Bt toxins are not sufficiently toxic for management of the sap-sucking, hemipteran pests. Greater flexibility is needed for in planta expression of insecticidal constructs such as Bt toxins, including tissue specific expression, protein and transcript stability.
In many organisms including arthropods introduction of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) results in the specific inactivation of an endogenous gene with sequence identity to the introduced dsRNA, a process known as RNA interference (RNAi). RNAi has potential for developing target-specific management methods for insect pests. Injection of dsRNA down-regulates translation in many arthropod species and the practical application of this approach for arthropod control has been demonstrated. However, research is needed to delineate factors that limit the current application of RNAi to certain arthropods to fully exploit the potential of this new approach.