K-State researchers share $1 million grant to study insect pests

06/01/04

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- Researchers at Kansas State University and in Germany have received a four-year, $1 million award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to perform studies designed to aid in the control of agronomically-important insect pests.

The study is being led by Susan J. Brown, associate professor of biology at K-State. Other participating research groups are being led by Rob Denell, K-State university distinguished professor of biology and director of the Terry C. Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research; Richard Beeman, adjunct professor of entomology at K-State and research entomologist at the U.S. Grain Marketing and Production Research Center in Manhattan; and scientists in Gottingen and Erlangen, Germany.

"This research, which utilizes the red flour beetle, a pest of stored grain and grain products, will involve a special genetic element that can be made to 'hop' to new locations in the beetle chromosomes, thereby causing new gene mutations and identifying regions important for directing patterns of gene activity," Brown said.

The study has potential to form the basis of new strategies of insect control, as well as important advances in understanding insect genetics and development, Brown said.

The K-State research team recently won approval from the National Human Genome Research Institute, an arm of the National Institutes of Health, to have the beetle's genome sequenced. This process is under way.

Brown said both beetle projects will further enhance the use of the insect for a variety of basic and applied research studies.

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