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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Oxford, Mississippi » Natural Products Utilization Research » Research » Research Project #426329

Research Project: Technology for Discovery of Agrochemicals, Bio-pesticides, and Nutraceuticals for United States of America and Chinese Agriculture

Location: Natural Products Utilization Research

Project Number: 6060-41000-013-01-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 1, 2014
End Date: Apr 30, 2019

Increasing incidence of chemical resistance by plant pests and pathogens and the loss of existing agrochemicals for pest management are factors that drive the need to search for new agricultural fungicides and insecticides. Exploration of plant-derived chemicals for plant disease protection, insecticides or repellents is not novel, but our unique strategy is to pursue discovery with Chinese colleagues with eventual registration with application in agriculture or nutrition. Working in China has many advantages, including historical information, cheaper labor force and resources, and other resources not available in the USA. Objectives 1) Identify and evaluate new natural product-based bio-pesticides for use as plant protectants or phytochemicals that may act to improve human and animal health and generate new fundamental knowledge in plant protection and production. Objective 2) Evaluate pathways and production of biologically active chemicals from which analogs may be developed for use in the U.S. and Chinese agriculture. This agreement will establish a collaborative research and scientific exchange program between Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (CATAS) and USDA to search and evaluate natural products with low mammalian and environmental toxicity for use as plant and human protectants important to USA and China. These collaborative studies will determine potential lead compounds that show promise for further research and possible eventual development by industry partners in either USA or China. Technology transfer and scientific exchange through learning advanced bioassay techniques, isolation and separation techniques, including various in vitro assays for establishing phytochemical activity, use, and efficacy, and apply CATAS experience and knowledge in plant protection and production, microbial fermentation, and extracts obtained from plants common to Chinese agriculture will improve the evaluation efficiency and cost of agrochemicals and bio-pesticide discovery in both countries. Through co-operations between CATAS and USDA laboratories to discover and develop new agrochemical fungicides, biopesticides, nutraceuticals we will increase the opportunity for success and enhance the safety and sustainability of agriculture in the USA and China.

We actively employ ethnobotanical, chemical ecology, anatomical or physiological clues to suggest candidate species. Our research focus is on unique plant and microbial species not previously studied as a sources for agrochemicals, biopesticides, and nutraceuticals, often these are medicinal and aromatic plants. Numerous crops are now grown under Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certification that is required for pharmaceutical grade TCM plant material. This means that GAP certified and authenticated material is easily available and cheaper. Since these plant products are often already produce commercially, registration issues are less of a problem, formulation is possible with Chinese faculty, and safe plant based products will fulfill a market niche both in USA and in China. Natural product derived agrochemicals, pest control agents, and those compounds considered GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) should reduce registration costs, provide many more agricultural uses and allow for the faster advancement of more potential candidate agrochemicals. Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (CATAS). Plant extracts, partially purified extracts, and pure compounds will be tested in in vitro assays and on plants for efficacy as plant protectants, bio-pesticides, or for pharmaceutical activity using established protocols for in vitro assays and on test subjects as determined by NPURU, CATAS, CMAVE or other labs. CATAS has a research center in southern China with the capability to purify active compounds for structural elucidation. The Lab has developed several standardization protocols for plant extracts in the medical applications and the expertise will be used for plant-based fungicide or bio-pesticide development. Initial screening studies will take place in CHINA then move to The National Center for Natural Products Research or other ARS locations in the USA where further purification and structural elucidation and detailed biochemical and physiological studies can be conducted in collaboration between ARS and CATAS. Bioassay guided-fractionation and in-depth fungicide, herbicide, antimicrobial, and insect studies will take place and further chemical purification and structural elucidation to allow for detailed biochemical and physiological studies will be conducted in collaboration between NPURU, CATAS, CMAVE or the UM. Ideally this research project will provide an opportunity for post-doctoral scientists, graduate students, or new career scientists to come to the USDA on their own funding from CHINA. CATAS will provide scientists for scientific exchange, technology transfer, and detailed training at the USDA labs in Oxford, MS, USA. The agreement will also provide for the opportunity for USDA scientists to conduct short term or sabbatical visits to CATAS to conduct research, meetings, coordinate research projects, and present lectures on agrochemical research. Provide scientific training and technology transfer by conducting natural product discovery, bioautography and procedural methods training workshop at CATAS for Chinese scientists if appropriate.