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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Biological Control of Insects Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #229987

Title: Insect cell culture and applications to research and pest management

item Goodman, Cynthia
item Stanley, David

Submitted to: In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Animal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/17/2008
Publication Date: 2/27/2009
Citation: Smagghe, G., Goodman, C.L., Stanley, D.W. 2009. Insect Cell Culture and Applications to Research and Pest Management. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Animals. 45:93-105.

Interpretive Summary: Insects exert tremendous damage to human food production and health. There are serious environmental problems associated with use of classical insecticides to control insect pests. New, environmentally sustainable insect management strategies are necessary. We are working with established insect cell cultures to develop new understanding and new approaches to insect pest management. Working with cell cultures is much more cost efficient than working with whole insects to make progress in some areas of research. Cell cultures are used to improve the effectiveness of insect viruses as biological control agents and are used to produce these viruses. We also use cell cultures to investigate insect immunity. Studies with cell cultures are revealing information on why some pest insect species are susceptible to viral infection while others are not. Studies with cell cultures also are providing new information on insect growth regulators. Insect growth regulators take advantage of the hormone systems involved in insect growth and development by selectively disrupting specific components of the hormone systems. We also use insect cell cultures to investigate fundamental properties of insect cells, such as cell migration toward the site of infections within an insect body. Scientists doing research to discover new insect management strategies will be the first beneficiaries of this work. As new strategies develop and are engineered into practical application, agricultural producers and people who use agricultural products will benefit.

Technical Abstract: Building on earlier research, insect cell culture began with the successful establishment of one cell line from pupal ovarian tissue. The field has grown to the extent that now over 500 insect cell lines have been established from many insect species representing numerous insect Orders and from several different tissue sources. These cell lines are used as research tools in virology, in studies of signaling mechanisms to study insect immunity and hemocyte migration and to test hypotheses about gene expression, and in screening programs designed to discover new insecticide chemistries. The virology research is revealing fundamental new information on virus/host cell interactions. Studies in gene expression are uncovering signal transduction pathways that are new to insect science. And the screening research is leading to development of high-speed screening technologies that are essential in the search for new insect pest management tools. A few insect cell lines are in routine industrial processes designed to produce proteins of biomedical significance. Both primary cell cultures and established lines are used in basic biological studies meant to reveal how insect cells work. This review is designed to briefly cover the history of insect cell culture, recount some of recent advances in the field and offer a vision of the future of insect cell culture.