Experiments Hope to Bolster Nematodes’ Killer Instincts to Protect Crops
At a Glance
An ISS National Lab investigation from biotechnology startup Pheronym, in collaboration with the USDA, will examine how microgravity affects beneficial nematodes—tiny worms with bacteria in their gut that kill crop-harming insects.
A recent study found nematodes exposed to Pheronym’s patented pheromone extract were 28 percent to 78 percent more effective in controlling pecan weevils and black soldier flies than nonexposed nematodes.
Improving the pheromone’s efficacy could give growers a better tool to protect crops while reducing broad-spectrum chemical insecticide use.
In addition to benefitting crops on Earth, these environmentally safe worms could aid future crops grown in space.
Last week, a type of microscopic worm that kills crop-eating insects rocketed to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory for an agricultural biocontrol experiment in space. Keep Reading