The main objective of the project is to develop a protocol to produce a new safe and user-friendly bioinsecticide based on the use of insecticidal molecules released by an entomopathogenic agent incorporated into a biodegradable nanoparticle in order to facilitate handling and bioavailability in the pests.
Scientifically the project will increase knowledge about the mode of action of parasitic effector molecules and socioeconomically support the transfer of knowledge, the valorization of local materials (serum and fish industry remnants) and the creation of a biotechnological startup.
In the formulation of the safe biopesticide and easy application in agriculture we will use as active ingredient peptides of the insecticidal fraction produced by an entomopathogen used in biological control and as support biodegradable nanoparticles produced from gelatine obtained by enzymatic reaction of fish remains and polylactic acid obtained by fermentation of whey lactose, both products of low value and abundant in the Azores. The project includes the following scientific and technical activities:
1) cloning genes expressed in the entomopathogenic nematode S. carpocapsae encoding insecticidal proteins to produce recombinant proteins in E. coli system;
2) production of nanoparticles with biodegradable polymers obtained from materials abundant in the Azores and of low value. Enzymatic extraction of gelatine from the remains of fish industries and production of poly-lactic acid by the fermentation of lactose from whey;
3) functionalization of the nanoparticles with the insecticidal molecules;
4) validation of insecticidal activities using the fruit fly as a model;
5) evaluation of the efficacy of nanoinsecticide in the control of agricultural pests in laboratory and semi-field trials;
6) safety assessment of non-target insects.
In addition to the technical scientific activities, there will be the extension activities in pest control using biological agents and natural extracts with insecticidal activity.
1) Laboratory-scale production of a nano-insecticide based on natural and safe active compounds and the demonstration of its efficacy in the control of insect pests.
2) Contribution to the increase of the scientific knowledge in entomopathogenic nematodes and their application in the control of insects by publishing the data obtained in the project in scientific papers and in communications in scientific meetings.
3) Contribution to the advanced training in the biological protection of plants by the integration of undergraduate and graduate students in the project.
4) Dissemination and promotion in the use of biological controllers in crop protection by conducting conferences and seminars aimed at farmers and the general public.
5) Preparation of the data obtained on the bioinsecticide in such a way as to support its possible business exploitation.
EFRD (FEDER) and Azores Government (ACORES-01-0145-FEDER-000113)
Fundação Gaspar Futuoso / Universidade dos Açores