Monday, January 16, 2006

Wasps Deliver Deadly Virus

Jia Hepeng and Wu Chong
11 January 2006
Source: SciDev.Net

[BEIJING] Chinese scientists have developed a way to protect crops using wasps that deliver lethal viruses to insect pests.

The technique, developed at the Wuhan Virus Research Institute won second prize at the 2005 National Technological Invention Awards, which were presented at the National Science and Technology Congress in Beijing on Monday (9 January).

Lead researcher Peng Huiyin says the approach costs 25-40 per cent less than chemical pesticides and is more environmentally friendly. It can control more than 20 insect pests, mainly caterpillars, he adds.

Both viruses and parasitic wasps have been used to kill pests before, but the Chinese scientists are the first to combine the tactics, says co-researcher Zhang Lin.

Certain parasitic wasps lay their eggs in those of other insects. The wasp larvae feed there, killing their hosts before hatching.

Zhang says that during 15 years of research, the team has identified more than 20 viruses that kill different pests but not the wasp.

Field trials of the methods have been conducted on more than 13,000 hectares of farmland in China. "It is very likely to be commercialised within one or two years," says Zhang.

Wasps deliver deadly virus to crop pests - SciDev.Net


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