Potentiation of Pest Control by Insect Immunosuppression

  • Webb, Bruce (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Environmental and human health risks associated with extensive use of non. specific chemical insecticides require reductions in their use through development of alternative means for pest control. Among the alternatives, biological control of insect pests plays and will continue to play an important role in reducing the need for non-specific hazardous insecticides. Wild type and improved strains of baculoviruses are highly pathogenic to insects, non-pathogenic to mammals and have been developed and registered as biological pesticides. However, the restricted host range of many baculoviruses, generally limited their use to a single or a few closely related insect species and constitutes an obstacle to their further implementation for lepidopteran pest control as well as increasing development costs. Further development of novel biological-control-based alternative means for pest control requires a better knowledge of the insect defense mechanisms. Viruses have evolved counter-measures for evading the host immune responses. The immune responses of insects to viral infection are not well understood. Recently, it became clear that virus host range can be delineated by the insect immune response (7,8). We propose to elucidate the mechanisms through which the immunosuppressive insect virus, the Campoletis sonorensis polydnavirus (CsV) promotes replication of a well-characterized pathogenic virus, the Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) in hosts that are mildly or non-permissive to virus replication by: 1. Assessing the extent to which and the mechanisms whereby the immunosuppressive virus, CsV, enhances AcMNPV replication in CsV-immunosuppressed H. zea and S. littoralis insects and CsV-treated S. littoralis cells. 2. Identifying CsV genes involved in the above immunosuppression (e.g. inhibiting cellular encapsulation and disrupting humoral immunity). This study will provide insight to the molecular mechanisms of viral pathogenesis and improve our understanding of insect immunity. This knowledge is of fundamental importance to controlling insect vectored diseases of humans, animals and plants and essential to developing novel means for pest control (including baculoviruses) that strategically weaken insect defenses to improve pathogen (i.e. biocontrol agent) infection and virulence.
Effective start/end date12/1/026/30/04


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