Engineered plants produce sex perfume to trick pests and replace pesticides
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp
Date: April 26, 2023 11:07AM
Tobacco plants have been engineered to manufacture an alluring perfume of insect sex pheromones, which could be used to confuse would-be pests looking for love and reduce the need for harmful pesticides.
By using precision gene engineering techniques, researchers at the Earlham Institute in Norwich have been able to turn tobacco plants into solar-powered factories for moth sex pheromones.¬†
Critically, they‚??ve shown how the production of these molecules can be efficiently managed so as not to hamper normal plant growth.¬†
Pheromones are complex chemicals produced and released by an organism as a means of communication. They allow members of the same species to send signals, which includes letting others know they‚??re looking for love.
Farmers can hang pheromone dispersers among their crops to mimic the signals of female insects, trapping or distracting the males from finding a mate. Some of these molecules can be produced by chemical processes but chemical synthesis is often expensive and creates toxic byproducts.¬†
Engineered plants produce sex perfume to trick pests and replace pesticides | Earlham Institute