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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Application Technology Research » Docs » News: Feb 7 2011 - USDA-ARS Research Published in PNAS

 February 7, 2011: USDA-ARS Research Published in PNAS
    Four years of intensive research has led to a publication in the January 25, 2011 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), one of the foremost peer-reviewed scientific journals.  Dr. Christopher Ranger isolated a natural product from flowers of zonal geranium responsible for paralyzing the Japanese beetle.  Dr. Ranger then worked with colleagues to determine the structure of the paralytic compound.  Analyses determined the paralytic compound is quisqualic acid, a known but rare natural product.  Beetles typically recover from paralysis within 24 hours when held under laboratory conditions, but field effects are likely deadlier, with paralyzed beetles being more susceptible to predators and desiccation.  This phenomenon was first documented in 1920, but the chemical mechanisms controlling it were not understood until now.   Implications of Dr. Ranger's research create unique opportunities for pest management strategies for the Japanese beetle, cited to cause an estimated $450 million a year in damages to the ornamental industry. 
    The full paper can be viewed via open access through the PNAS website at  The paper has also received attention in Science, and the commentary can be read here.  ARS Magazine featured Dr. Ranger's research in the March 2010 issue.  Click to read the ARS article or to view a video of Japanese beetle paralysis.

Japanese beetle feeding on agar infused with geranium petal extract.

Zonal geranium, Pelargonium x hortorum 'Nittany Lion Red'