Team:Valencia UPV/otraprueba pag inlined



The Sexy Plant

Project overview (Draft)

Pests are one of the major problems in agriculture because their effect cause huge losses in this sector. Since pest control techniques relying on the use of pesticides are becoming less and less popular, because of the environmental damages they can cause, treatment with pheromones are gaining ground among pest management. Nowadays insect pheromones are chemically synthesised, which happens to be an expensive and complex process because of manufacturing costs and purification steps. In pursuit this line of thinking, our main efforts are aimed at avoiding the damage produced by pests in crops, specifically moths, which cause significant damage in crops all around the world. Moths lay eggs on the crops after mating, then the larvae eat the crops causing considerable damage. Our objective is to find an alternative method of pest control using pheromones.

Male moths find the females by tracing the pheromones they release into the air. For the attraction to be effective, female of a certain species must release the exact proportion of pheromone components. However, the strategy to be used is not based in attraction but in confusion. When the major pheromone component concentration in the environment reaches high levels, males are not able to find the females. This strategy is called mate disruption.

Our final objective is to create a synthetic plant which can produce a determined pheromone specifically in their trichomes, allowing its diffusion and secretion to the environment, causing mating disruption among moths (Lepidoptera). These plants would allow pest control simply sowing some of them around a crop field and inducing the pheromone production by applying a copper-rich nutrient solution before the insects mating season. In addition, due to their induced sterility, these plants would be completely safe to cultivate in the field and easily recognizable due to their anthocyanin production which would turn them purple.