Start Date: Dec 02, 2005
End Date: Dec 01, 2010
Comprehensive development of microbial entomopathogens as biological pesticides will include diverse methodologies. In particular, molecular and genetic evaluation of the composition of a broad array of microbial entomopathogens (fungi, bacteria, and viruses) will be undertaken in order to identify microbials’ genetic composition and the key genes responsible for their ability to cause detrimental effects in insect pests; to identify and differentiate pathogenic from non-pathogenic microbial strains; and to inform the selection of improved or more virulent microbial isolates for biological control. Microbial entomopathogens’ gene and gene-product functions in the pest hosts will be assessed using state-of-the-art molecular and genomic technologies, including cDNA library development, genetic and phenotypic microarrays, genetic marker development, and RNAi or other functional methods, in order to understand the molecular and functional basis for their pathogenesis and virulence in the insect pest. The gene response to microbial entomopathogens of at least one pest insect will be assessed through the same technologies. Improved cell-based technologies will be developed for augmented microbial production and enhanced microbial utilization. New insect cell lines will be developed as needed tools to study agriculturally and medically important insects. The efficacy of microbial entomopathogens and their gene products, including toxins, for biocontrol of agricultural insect pests will be evaluated through testing in both controlled laboratory bioassay and small-scale field studies. These microbial entomopathogen analyses will expand our understanding of diverse microbial-insect pest interactions and enable development of useable safe tested biological pesticides for deployment to control insects in pest management systems.