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Publication Highlight: Research develops new biotechnological technique to combat soybean pest

Recently, science has been trying to reduce risks to the environment and human health, replacing the use of insecticides with other more effective and environmentally accepted alternatives. Plantations are regularly the target of pest attacks capable of significantly affect their productivity generating large economic losses.

One of the pests that has caused losses of millions of reais to corn and soybean crops in Brazil is the brown stink bug (Euschistus heros), also the target insect of our study. A solution sought to combat the pest was biotechnological application in plants, an alternative capable of genetically manipulating molecules that go directly to the target organism, thus using the insect’s own genetic material as a natural insecticide. The difficulty found in this work was to adapt the technique to combat stink bugs, which have specific feeding characteristics, making it difficult for RNA fragments to reach their target intact not being broken during the pre-digestion of food.

The team was able to develop a technique that protects the genetic material from the insect’s gastric juice, involving the RNA molecule in an EDTA-type stabilizer. In this way, the genetic material is able to act on the target by silencing the gene of interest causing the insect to die or not develop any resistance mechanism.

The article was highlighted for its innovative research and it’s among the 10% most accessed by Pest Management Science journal during the last two years. The work was a result of the efforts of the recent graduated PhD Nathaly Lara Castellanos, as welll as our collaborators Eugênio Oliveira (UFV), Guy Smagghe (Ghent University) and Olivier Christiaens (Ghent University). The research resulted in a doctorate with a dual degree from the author, and opens the door to future partnerships between the two institutions.

 You can access the full article by clicking here.

See the full new on the official UFV website by clicking here.

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