ISS BLOG 360: December 10, 2019 By Anne Wainscott-Sargent

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

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