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Genetically Engineered Moths a Success in Cornell Crop Protection Study

by Alice Riddell on February 10th, 02020

A recent article in phys.org reports on a newly-published study on the use of genetically engineered moths to increase crop protection. The Cornell study documents the successful application and release of self-limiting, genetically engineered diamondback moths to fields of brassica crops. 

The diamondback moth, also known as Plutella xylostella, is highly damaging to brassica crops such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and canola. This new strain of diamondback moth, developed by Oxitec Ltd, is modified to control pest diamondback moth in a targeted manner. The study showed the engineered strain had similar field behaviors to unmodified diamondback moths, with results offering promise for future protection of farmers’ brassica crops.

Oxitec’s self-limiting diamondback moth is modified to control its pest counterparts in the field. After release of males of this strain, they find and mate with pest females, but the self-limiting gene passed to offspring prevents female caterpillars from surviving. With sustained releases, the pest population is suppressed in a targeted, ecologically sustainable way. After releases stop, the self-limiting insects decline and disappear from the environment within a few generations.”

Frontiers, “First release of genetically engineered moth could herald new era of crop protection.”