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
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.