Main content area

Application of the Prunus spp. Cyanide Seed Defense System onto Wheat: Reduced Insect Feeding and Field Growth Tests

Mora, Carlos A., Halter, Jonas G., Adler, Cornel, Hund, Andreas, Anders, Heidrun, Yu, Kang, Stark, Wendelin J.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2016 v.64 no.18 pp. 3501-3507
Plodia interpunctella, Prunus, Rhyzopertha dominica, Tenebrio molitor, almonds, amygdalin, beta-glucosidase, biodegradability, coatings, crops, defense mechanisms, developmental stages, field experimentation, germination, herbivores, hydrogen cyanide, insect pests, pesticides, polylactic acid, reproduction, wheat
Many crops are ill-protected against insect pests during storage. To protect cereal grains from herbivores during storage, pesticides are often applied. While pesticides have an undoubtable functionality, increasing concerns are arising about their application. In the present study, we investigated a bioinspired cyanogenic grain coating with amygdalin as cyanogenic precursor mimicking the feeding-triggered release of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) found for example in bitter almonds. The multilayer coating consisted of biodegradable polylactic acid with individual layers containing amygdalin or β-glucosidase which is capable of degrading amygdalin to HCN. This reaction occurred only when the layers were ruptured, e.g., by a herbivore attack. Upon feeding coated cyanogenic wheat grains to Tenebrio molitor (mealworm beetle), Rhizopertha dominica (lesser grain borer), and Plodia interpunctella (Indianmeal moth), their reproduction as well as consumption rate were significantly reduced, whereas germination ability increased compared to noncoated grains. In field experiments, we observed an initial growth delay compared to uncoated grains which became negligible at later growth stages. The here shown strategy to artificially apply a naturally occurring defense mechanisms could be expanded to other crops than wheat and has the potential to replace certain pesticides with the benefit of complete biodegradability and increased safety during storage.