Lev Bely, 07.02.2013 15:54
Genetic research of the diamondback moth Plutella xylostella has revealed the secret of the world's worst agricultural pest that costs about $5 billion damage every year in crop losses and insecticides.
An international consortium also involving two Australian scientists has decoded the genetic blueprint, depicting how rapidly P. xylostella larvae evolve resistance to insecticides.
Professor Geoff Gurr of the Australian Charles Sturt University said the moth's evolutionary trick lays in its ability to detoxify the defence compounds produced by plants in the cabbage family, the same compounds that make mustard pungent and cabbage smelly.
“Remarkably, it appears that the very genetic adaptations that allow the diamondback moth to cope with these natural compounds also allow it to detoxify the insecticides used against it,” Gurr said.
Scientists suppose the decoding of the P. xylostella genetic code will make it possible to implement new insecticide resistance-monitoring techniques as well as develop pest-management strategies.
18,000 separate genes were identified in the course of the genetic research that lasted several years and cooperated 40 scientists.
The Age, http://www.theage.com.au
Photo: P. xylostella
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