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Biological clocks of insects could lead to more effective pest control
Date:8/12/2009

CORVALLIS, Ore. Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that the circadian rhythms or biological "clocks" in some insects can make them far more susceptible to pesticides at some times of the day instead of others.

With further research, the scientists said, it may be possible to tap into this genetic characteristic, identify the times that a target insect is most vulnerable to a specific pesticide, and use that information to increase the effectiveness, reduce costs and decrease the amounts of pesticide necessary for insect control.

Approaches such as this may also be highly useful in programs of "integrated pest management," the researchers said, which aim to minimize pesticide use, prevent development of resistance to pesticides, and use a broad range of physical or chemical control measures to enhance the long-term effectiveness of an insect control program in crop agriculture.

The findings were just published in PLoS ONE, a professional journal, in work supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.

"We found that it took triple the dose of one pesticide to have the same lethal effect on fruit flies at the time of day their defenses were strongest, compared to when they were weakest," said Louisa Hooven, a postdoctoral fellow in the OSU Department of Zoology and lead author on the study. "A different pesticide took twice the dose. This makes it pretty clear that the time of day of an exposure to a pesticide can make a huge difference in its effectiveness."

In recent years, researchers have found that the genes which are sensitive to the natural rhythms of day and night can have a wide range of biological effects, on everything from fertility to feeding patterns, sleep, hormone production, stress, productivity, medication effectiveness and many other functions. And they operate in multiple cells in many or most plant and anim
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Contact: Jadwiga Giebultowicz
giebultj@science.oregonstate.edu
541-737-5530
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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