ARS researchers have discovered a new baculovirus that could prove useful in controlling insect pests. The baculovirus, referred to as PxMNPV, was isolated from a sample taken from a diseased Plutella xylostella (diamondback moth) caterpillar. In laboratory tests, PxMNPV proved effective against the diamondback moth and several other major insect pests. Diamondbacks are a major crop pest for cole crops, such as cabbage, broccoli, and kale. They deposit their eggs on plant surfaces. Emerging offspring feed on growing plants causing extensive damage. The pest has become resistant to many pesticides, which can be costly–ranging from about $10 to $21 an acre per application. ARS’s baculovirus has a wide host range, which means this biocontrol agent could prove fatal against many other crop-damaging insect pests attacking both vegetable and field crops.
This invention could be developed into powder or liquid and applied as a spray to plant surfaces. An advantage of using ARS’s invention is it is specific, causing no harm to beneficial insects. Some chemicals currently in use for controlling insect pests are non-specific–killing many beneficial insects. Other advantages of ARS’s biocontrol are that it is biodegradable, and it does not infect higher animals. The baculovirus can be produced in vitro (in glass or plastic vessels) and in vivo (inside an insect host). Virus preparations can be stored for long periods of time, but refrigerating at cold to frozen temperatures is best.
This invention can be used for controlling diamondback moth (DMB), cabbage looper, tobacco budworm, corn earworm, and beet army worm. DMB is a worldwide pest, so the market size is quite sizeable. Companies producing and rearing biological control agents could use this invention.
Please refer to USPN 6,042,843 (Docket #0034.96), "A Baculovirus for the Control of Insect Pests," which issued on March 28, 2000. Foreign rights are available.
Arthur H. McIntosh
Biological Control of Insects Research
Columbia, MO 65203-3535
(573) 875-5361 Ext 222 / Fax: (573) 875-4261