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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Biological Control of Pests Research » Research » Research Project #437363

Research Project: Optimization of the Composition of Corn Starch-based Bioplastic to Control Aflatoxin and Other Agricultural Pests

Location: Biological Control of Pests Research

Project Number: 6066-42000-006-11-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2019
End Date: Mar 31, 2021

Objective:
Refine aerial, foliar, and seed treatment application strategies of biocontrol agents to optimize aflatoxin management. Our research has developed an effective sprayable biocontrol product that applies much less material directly at the site of action with much shorter lead times. The proposed Innovation Fund research will optimize the composition of this product by synthesizing a range of pre-gelatinized cornstarch compositions with our cooperators who are available to characterize product samples chemically and for rehydration properties. Our laboratory will conduct optimization studies for leaf adherence, spore adherence, self-life and field rehydration rates.

Approach:
The research will optimize the composition of the sprayable biocontrol carrier by synthesizing pre-gelatinized (to allow rapid rehydration without heating) fluorescent-labelled cornstarch compositions with ranges of acetate, butyrate, hexanoate, dodecanoate and hexadecanoate ester substitutions. Bioplastic products will be characterized chemically (nuclear resonance spectroscopy, quantitative deacylation), rehydration rates and extents, leaf adherence and spore adherence. Bioplastic samples will be fluorescent-labelled with 2-aminopyridine coupled with sodium cyanoborohydride to allow for tracking of bioplastic carrier particles and for leaf adherence assessment to complement DNA tracking of Aspergillus flavus both in the greenhouse and in the field. The optimum bioplastic product will be formulated into a product suitable for commercialization by optimizing spore adherence conditions, product drying and grinding conditions. This product will also be tested for shelf-life (particularly spore viability) and field re-hydration rates and application properties.