Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Mutant Corn Could Yield New Ways to Curb 'Billion-Dollar Bug'

Published: Thursday, November 28, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, November 28, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Researchers have discovered a novel corn mutant whose leaves are highly susceptible to attack by Western corn rootworm beetles.

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.

"This opens up a whole new opportunity to understand more about the mechanism of defense in corn to control this beetle," said Gurmukh Johal, professor of botany and plant pathology. Johal and Stephen Moose of Illinois independently discovered the mutant around the same time.

"In identifying the genetic pathway involved in resistance, we can develop better ways of controlling this pest without having to use insecticides," Johal said.

Western corn rootworm causes more than $1 billion damage a year in yield losses and control costs in the U.S., earning it the nickname "the billion-dollar bug." The rootworm larvae chew on the roots of corn plants while the adult beetles eat the silks and pollen. Current control measures include crop rotation, transgenic corn plants and insecticides. But a rise in continuous corn systems, increased rootworm resistance to transgenic plants and changes in rootworm behavior have rendered these management strategies less effective.
Because the leaves of the corn mutant are singularly attractive to Western corn rootworm beetles, the mutant could be used in a "push-pull" pest-management strategy - luring the beetles to a specific location where they can be controlled, said Christian Krupke, assistant professor of entomology and co-author of the study.

"Once you can get them where you want, you can use efficient, cost-effective ways of controlling them, either by directly targeting and eliminating them or by keeping them away from your main crop," he said.

In the absence of the beetle, the mutant is virtually indistinguishable from normal corn plants, which may be why it was not discovered earlier, said Johal. Its leaves do not become vulnerable to attack by rootworm beetles until it reaches the vegetative stage, about 5-6 weeks into the growth process.

On finding the mutant, Western corn rootworm beetles scrape away the leaf tissue from the upper epidermis, resulting in a transparent "window pane" appearance. If the beetle infestation is severe, the plants can become completely defoliated, which also can reduce grain yield.

A combination of structural and biochemical changes in the mutant leaves make them particularly vulnerable to attack. The cellular lobes that interlock to provide structural strength are smaller and weaker in the mutant leaves. The leaves also have substantially reduced levels of hydroxycinnmates and lignin, compounds that are responsible for cross-linking microfibers in cell walls.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Remote-Controlled Drug Delivery
A team of researchers has created a new implantable drug-delivery system using nanowires that can be wirelessly controlled.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Microsecond Raman Imaging Might Probe Cells, Organs for Disease
An advanced medical diagnostic tool for the early detection of cancer and other diseases.
Thursday, April 02, 2015
Purdue-Based Firms Grow After Receiving Emerging Innovations Fund Investments
The Fund has helped to support new business ventures across a range of research areas.
Friday, March 13, 2015
Keck Foundation to Fund Purdue Research into Spectroscopic Imaging
Ji-Xin Cheng leads a Purdue team awarded a $1 million W.M. Keck Foundation grant to develop a new type of imaging technology for cell and tissue analysis that could bring advanced medical diagnostics.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Pharmaceuticals, Personal Care Products Could Taint Swimming Pools
A new study suggests pharmaceuticals and chemicals from personal care products end up in swimming pools, possibly interacting with chlorine to produce disinfection byproducts with unknown properties and health effects.
Monday, January 12, 2015
Purdue Research Suggests Approach to Treat Virus Causing Respiratory Illness
Enterovirus D68 has stricken children with serious respiratory infections.
Monday, January 05, 2015
Drinking Water Odors, Chemicals Above Health Standards Caused by 'Green Building' Plumbing
Several types of plastic pipes in eco-friendly green buildings in the United States have been found to leach chemicals into drinking water that can cause odors and sometimes exist at levels that may exceed health standards.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
New Technique Yields Drug, Biomedical Test Results in One Minute
Slug flow microextraction makes it possible to quickly detect the presence of drugs or to monitor certain medical conditions using only a single drop of blood or urine.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Producing Orange Corn Rich in Provitamin A
Improvement of carotenoid levels in corn a simpler, faster process for plant breeders.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
New Chip Promising For Tumor-Targeting Research
The new system, called a tumor-microenvironment-on-chip device, will allow researchers to study the complex environment surrounding tumors and the barriers that prevent the targeted delivery of therapeutic agents.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Mass Spectrometry Tool Helps Guide Brain Cancer Surgery
A tool to help brain surgeons test and more precisely remove cancerous tissue was successfully used during surgery, according to a Purdue University and Brigham and Women's Hospital study.
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
System 'Prints' Precise, Tailored Drug Dosages
The new approach uses a combination of data and mathematics to determine the precise dosage.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Purdue, Houston Methodist to Take Drug Discoveries from the Bench Top to the Bedside
The planned collaboration on research and educational initiatives includes clinical trials of drugs developed at Purdue.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Helping Genes Get Out of the Starting Blocks Faster
Yeast can quickly adapt to changes in its environment with the help of molecules known as long non-coding RNAs, a Purdue study shows.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Laser Tool Speeds up Detection of Salmonella in Food Products
Purdue University researchers have developed a laser sensor that can identify Salmonella bacteria grown from food samples about three times faster than conventional detection methods.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Scientific News
Fixing Holes in the Heart Without Invasive Surgery
UV-light enabled catheter is a medical device which represents a major shift in how cardiac defects are repaired.
Chromosomal Chaos
Penn study forms basis for future precision medicine approaches for Sezary syndrome
Enzyme Malfunction May be Why Binge Drinking Can Lead to Alcoholism
A new study in mice shows that restoring the synthesis of a key brain chemical tied to inhibiting addictive behavior may help prevent alcohol cravings following binge drinking.
Key to Natural Detoxifier’s Reactivity Discovered
Results have implications for health, drug design and chemical synthesis.
New Treatment for Obesity Developed
Researchers at the University of Liverpool, working with a global healthcare company, have helped develop a new treatment for obesity.
New Protein Found in Immune Cells
Immunobiologists from the University of Freiburg discover Kidins220/ARMS in B cells and demonstrate its functions.
Will Brain Palpation Soon Be Possible?
Researchers have developed non-invasive brain imaging technique which provides the same information as physical palpation.
Shaking Up the Foundations of Epigenetics
Researchers at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and the University of Barcelona (UB) published a study that challenges some of the current beliefs about epigenetics.
Groundbreaking Computer Program Diagnoses Cancer in Two Days
Researchers have combined genetics with computer science and created a new diagnostic technology can with 85 per cent certainty identify the source of the disease and thus target treatment and, ultimately, improve the prognosis for the patient.
Michigan Researchers Use Raman Spectroscopy
inVia confocal Raman microscope used in the study of various childhood diseases.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos