Neuropeptide Insecticides

Scientists are exploring protein targets called neuropeptides for use in insecticides

The Technology

In an effort to rationally design new species or group-specific insecticides for crop-damaging insects, scientists are exploring protein targets called neuropeptides which regulate key developmental and reproductive biochemical processes in insects. By synthesising metabolically stable artificial molecules which bind to and block specific insect neuropeptide receptors, it is hoped to be able to develop new selective insecticides, helping to reduce impact on beneficials.

How it Works

Insect neuropeptides are hormonally active peptides which regulate aspects of insect physiology and development such as feeding, growth and reproductive behaviour. These are different from mammalian neuropeptides, and also vary between insect species. By blocking the activity of species-specific neuropeptide messengers with inactive or antagonistic mimics (so-called bio-rational insecticides), these processes are disrupted. This reduces survival and reproduction of target species.

Farmer / Agronomist Benefits

Although not yet in commercial development, the approach is essential for development of alternative methods of selective insect control in arable crops, minimising risk to beneficials and the environment. More than 3/4 of the current insecticide armoury will lose use authorisation in the next five years, and insects are becoming increasingly resistant to the remainder.

Key researchers/stakeholders

Universities of Leeds, Glasgow, Delhi, Cologne, Cape Town, Leuven, Ghent et al.


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