Thursday, April 30, 2015

New way to protect plants from insects

Scientists have found how to make scents that repel and attract insects.

The research team at Rothamsted Research Centre in the United Kingdom say the scents that repel could keep insects away from crops. Those that attract could be used to lure them into traps.

They have pioneered the production of tiny molecules which mirror a naturally-occurring scents.

"We know that many organisms use smell to interact with members of the same species and to locate hosts of food or to avoid attack from parasites," said chemistry professor Rudolf Allemann, who led the research.

"However, the difficulty is that scientifically smell molecules are often extremely volatile, chemically unstable and expensive to recreate.

“This means that, until now, progress has been extremely slow in recreating smells that are similar to the original.”

The researchers were able to make insect repellent scent molecules which are structurally different but functionally similar to the original.

His colleague at Rothamsted Research, John Pickett, said: "This…provides a novel way of producing a smell with different properties and potentially better ones than the original but at the same time preserving the original activity.”