Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Insect Genetics and Biochemistry Research » Research » Research Project #430059

Research Project: Conservation of Genetic Diversity and Improved Storage Protocols for Agricultural Pests and Beneficial Insects

Location: Insect Genetics and Biochemistry Research

Project Number: 3060-21220-030-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Apr 1, 2016
End Date: Dec 17, 2018

Objective 1: Develop storage technologies for cryopreservation of insect germplasm (e.g., for screwworms, honey bees, moths, and tephritid fruit flies) and low-temperature storage of solitary pollinators. [NP304, Component 3, Problem Statements 3A2 and 3B2] Sub-objective 1A: Develop transferable cryobank technologies for a sustainable system of insect germplasm conservation. Sub-objective 1B: Determine the micro-environmental influences on insect storage. Sub-objective 1C: Describe and optimize conditions for the short-term storage of honey bees (Apis mellifera) during transportation. Objective 2: Isolate biomarkers to monitor diapause development in managed solitary pollinators and to measure population diversity of economically important species (such as solitary bee pollinators and Lygus). [NP304, Components 1 and 3, Problem Statements 1A, 1C, and 3A2] Sub-objective 2A: Characterize transcriptional profiles and genomic elements that distinguish diapause destined and diapause averting (second generation) alfalfa leafcutting bees (Megachile rotundata). Sub-objective 2B: Characterize the basis of diapause plasticity among distinct populations of the blue orchard bee (Osmia lignaria). Sub-objective 2C: Characterize micro-environmental factors affecting M. rotundata diapause development. Objective 3: For economically important species (such as tephritid fruit flies, screwworms, honey bees and solitary bee pollinators), develop quality control biomarkers through the characterization of sub-lethal effects (developmental and physiological) resulting from storage. [NP304, Component 3, Problem Statements 3A2 and 3B2] Sub-objective 3A: Characterize the consequences of insect cryobanking procedures. Sub-objective 3B: Identify and ameliorate the sub-lethal effects of low-temperature storage. Sub-objective 3C: Develop quality control biomarkers for managed insect populations.

Insects are one of largest factors influencing agricultural production throughout the world. Pollinating insects are critical to the U.S. agricultural economy, contributing directly to an estimated $16 billion in annual crop production. Conversely, pest species create negative impacts: the U.S. spends $7 billion annually on pest management, but insect pests still reduce production by at least 25%. Furthermore, the economic importance of insects will amplify as climate change affects both beneficial and detrimental insects while the world struggles to feed a growing human population. Addressing these issues will require the mass-rearing of countless insect species and strains, and insect diapause and cold storage have been identified as critical processes requiring better understanding for improved insect maintenance. Currently, storage protocols are developed empirically with little to no consideration of insect physiology or evolutionary history, and the most basic attributes of diapause remain undefined for many critical species. The goal of this project is to decipher the physiological and molecular underpinnings of insect diapause and cold stress, which will serve as the foundation for novel insect cold-storage and cryostorage protocols. Specifically, we propose to: (i) Develop insect storage technologies including cryopreservation and low-temperature storage; (ii) Identify biomarkers to monitor diapause development and to measure diapause plasticity in pollinators; and (iii) Characterize sub-lethal effects of storage with concurrent quality control biomarkers. This research will ultimately deliver high-quality insects to end users by identifying biomarkers for assessing insect health, expediting development of optimized storage protocols, and establishing a National Insect Cryobank to preserve critical germplasm.