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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Biological Control of Insects Research

Project Number: 5070-22000-035-03-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2011
End Date: Dec 31, 2013

Investigate the feasibility of using silver nanoparticles as novel microbial delivery vehicles targeting pest insects.

We intend to investigate the potential use of silver nanoparticles as vehicles for targeted delivery of baculoviruses in cooperation with Nanoparticle Biochem, Inc. This start-up company began in biomedicine and it has the technology to deliver silver nanoparticles to specific tissues within mammals. All silver nanoparticles are stabilized by coatings. Our goal is to create silver nanoparticles coated with baculoviruses in an attempt to stabilize them in the field. However, it is unknown whether silver nanoparticles are toxic to invertebrates over acute or long-term exposure. To address this deficiency, baseline impact of silver nanoparticle ingestion on both pest and nontarget insects will be examined over multiple generations. We will expose the pest insect, Heliothis virescens and the beneficial insect, Podisus maculiventris, to known concentrations of silver nanoparticles by incorporating the nanoparticles into the insect culture media. Based on prelimary data, the silver nanoparticles had a small impact on the pest insect, H. virescens. The same particles had very little impact on the nontarget beneficial insect, P. maculiventris. We propose to repeat these experiments to allow rigorous statistical analyses. We will also carry the experiments over several generations of each insect to determine longer term impacts of the nanoparticles. Moving beyond baseline studies, in cooperation with Nanoparticle Biochem, we intend to generate silver nanoparticles coated with baculovirus isolates. Using established feeding protocols, we will expose the pest and the beneficial insects via their culture media and will replicate all feeding experiments to allow appropriate statistical analyses. Later in this research we will use Nanoparticle Biochem, Inc., equipment to determine the fate of silver nanoparticles within infected bodies. Our approach has added value because studies of nanoparticles as environmental contaminants, termed nanotoxicology, are only beginning. A few studies have addressed nanotoxicology in aquatic environments, however, information on the impact of silver nanoparticles on terrestrial pest and beneficial insects is lacking. Aside from thorough study of silver nanoparticles as potential microbial delivery systems, this work will provide important information on the impact of these nanoparticles on terrestrial insects.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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