Birth control for insects may be possible 2007-12-10 09:05:16   Print

    BEIJING, Dec. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Scientists found a molecular receptor, common to all insects that sets off post- mating behaviors like egg-laying and developing a chemical to artificially block its action could stop insect populations, media reported Monday.

    "If you had an inhibitor of this receptor then you could interfere with its function and it would, in effect, be a birth control pill for insects," said Barry Dickson from the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, Austria.

    Dickson and his colleagues have identified the receptor for the molecule in fruit flies and shown it is key to post-mating behavior. Females lacking the receptor continue to behave as virgins, even after mating.

    Crucially, the same receptor has been found in all insects studied so far, suggesting it may be possible to develop a widely applicable chemical blocker that would be far more effective and environmentally friendly than insecticides.

    Modern insecticides are good at killing bugs, but because insects breed so prolifically, those that die are quickly replaced.

    By contrast, females dosed with a sex peptide receptor blocker would remain alive and continue to compete in the breeding pool, producing a bigger impact on the wider population.

    Developing the concept will require a lot more research but Dickson said it was possible such a blocker might be introduced into breeding ponds where larvae grow or else planted in pheromone traps designed to attract insects.


Editor: Song Shutao
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