Insect & Nematode Biotechnology

Insects and nematodes are the world's most important pests of agricultural plants and livestock. They cause billions of dollars of losses to growers and livestock producers every year because of lowered yields, quality deterioration, and diseases. Pesticides are a major tool for their control. Safer alternatives to control these pests are needed urgently because an ever-escalating number of pesticides cause potential harm to the environment and human health. The advent of biotechnology is leading us to exciting potential strategies to control these pests.

For many years NIFA has supported research aimed toward developing novel control strategies for insect and nematode pests and the genetic improvement of beneficial species such as pollinators and biological control agents. Projects that use the tools of biotechnology have increased dramatically in these programs over the last 20 years. Four general areas of research related to insects, nematodes, and biotechnology are:

  • Resistance Management to Genetically Modified Crops
  • Genetic Improvement of Biological Control Agents and Beneficial Insects
  • Transgenesis of Pests
  • Development of Designer Pesticides or Vaccines