Research team boosts environmentally sustainable pest control via insect pheromones

September 8th, 2022

Lincoln, Neb. —A team of researchers including a University of Nebraska-Lincoln biochemist has developed a low-cost process to produce pheromones and enable the next generation of pest control. The findings facilitate environmentally friendly methods to protect food crops currently facing increased vulnerability to insect attack.

Pheromones are a viable environmentally friendly alternative to conventional insecticides for pest control. Pheromone-based pest control products have been restricted to high-value crops, however, as today’s manufacturing processes cannot yet produce pheromones at low enough costs to enable their use for lower-value crops, especially commodity row crops such as corn, soy and cotton.

The research team including Ed Cahoon, a UNL professor of biochemistry and director of the university’s Center for Plant Science Innovation, has developed a novel path to produce significant amounts of inexpensive pheromones from the ancient Viking seed oil plant Camelina. The project demonstrates the biological efficacy and economic feasibility of pheromone production in plant factories by metabolic engineering of an oilseed crop.

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Story by Geitner Simmons | IANR News