Insect Management Knowledge Research Program
Monsanto’s Insect Management Knowledge Program (IMKP) supports research on economically important pests of U.S. row crops. The program was designed to drive economical, practical and sustainable pest solutions for farmers through enhanced understanding of integrated pest management (IPM) solutions and challenges. In order to feed a growing population, innovative IPM solutions will be required both in the short term as well as in the long term.
The Insect Management Knowledge Program is designed to develop collaborative new research projects with scientists who have expertise and interests that complement those of Monsanto. There are several areas of focus for the program, including:
- sustainable pest management;
- development of predictive models for developing resistance;
- biochemical, genetic, and molecular characterization of pest resistance to control methods;
- facilitation of multi-year surveys of U.S. insect pest populations;
- farmer education and training on insect management.
Monsanto established the CRW Knowledge Grant Program in 2012 which funded six proposals in 2013. The Program was continued in 2013 resulting in seven funded proposals. The focus of the 2012 and 2013 programs was on Corn Rootworm research. The scope of the program is being expanded for 2014, under the new name of Insect Management Knowledge Program (IMKP). This new program expands coverage to the following U.S. row crops: cotton, corn, and soybeans and to all economically significant row crop pests. The Insect Management Knowledge program will provide merit-based awards of up to $250,000 per award per year, for a research period of up to three years, for outstanding proposals in critical areas. Additionally, a separate award of $50,000 per year is awarded for a proposal that will help to develop educational materials related to pest management.
Pre-proposals have been extended and are now being accepted until October 13, 2014. All proposals will be reviewed and selected proposals will be requested to submit a final proposal. Final grants will be announced no later than March, 2015.
The full Request for Proposals and instructions for application may be found here: Insect Knowledge Research Request for Proposal
Applicants are encouraged to follow the grant application directions for Budget, Project Description, Bibliography, and Supplemental Materials, in addition to completing an application Cover Sheet. Templates for the Cover Sheet, Project Summary, and Budget (applicants may use this template or one normally used by their institution) may be found in the following links. Note that these are Word document forms that must be converted to PDF format prior to submission.
The Application Cover Sheet, Application, Project Summary, Budget, and any supplemental materials should be submitted in PDF format to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions about the program may also be directed to this email address.
Application Review and Grant Award Decisions
The IMKP Advisory Committee consists of members from academia, growers, and key industry groups. Its purpose is oversight of the review process, annual selection of ad hoc review panels, and program guidance in areas such as research progress, and developments. The Advisory Committee is co-chaired by a representative from both the academic and research community and Monsanto. Members of the committee were selected due to their experience in the agriculture, insect biology, and insect management practices.
Reviewers will be selected based upon training and experience in relevant scientific, extension, or education fields.
2015 Insect Knowledge Research Awardees
“Prospective” Resistance Management: Empowering Growers to Understand and Exploit Refugia
Peter Ellsworth, John Palumbo, Yves Carrière, Al Fournier, Wayne Dixon, Lydia Brown (Univ. Ariz.); Steve Castle (USDA-ARS); Nilima Prabhaker (UC-Riverside)
This project will pro-actively address significant threats of whitefly resistance to several key selective insecticides in a multi-crop system. Our innovative research and outreach approach will develop spatial chemical use maps from agricultural pesticide use reporting data to support and inform pest manager insecticide use decisions based on pesticide use patterns and probabilities of resistance development. These maps will support outreach to teach landscape principles of resistance management to stakeholders and help them to pro-actively partition chemistry through space or time so as to reduce selection pressures and extend the utility and economic and environmental benefits of these selective chemistries (i.e., refugia management). We will test spatial hypotheses about the relationship of prior chemical use and its spatial distribution to development of resistance in whiteflies by sampling whiteflies from target areas (high-use or low/no-use) and testing for resistance. Finally, we will measure changes in awareness, knowledge, skills, behavior and condition with respect to resistance status, chemical use practices and landscape concepts in resistance management, using our pesticide use database and crop pest losses surveys conducted by PIs. We will address Monsanto’s IMKP challenge areas: (1) development of predictive models of resistance; (2) farmer education and training on insect management; and (3) sustainable pest management. Surveys to measure stakeholder acceptance and potential adoption of chemical use maps (n=43) have shown 100% support. We will make refugia management (i.e., partitioning chemistry through space and time) a key and proactive feature of our growers’ resistance management arsenal, advancing the science of resistance management.
An Agent-Based Model of Insect Adaptation to Transgenic Insecticidal Corn
Felicia Wu - Michigan State University
Hasan Guclu - University of Pittsburgh Kenneth Ostlie - University of Minnesota
We propose to create a novel agent-based model to determine how key risk factors affect development of insect resistance to transgenic Bt corn. The goal is to rapidly identify actions most likely to preserve the efficacy of current and future traits. We will use corn rootworm (CRW) resistance to Cry3Bb1 as a case study for the model, which will focus on insect traits, corn hybrids, and grower behaviors as risk factors. We will parameterize and validate our model using data from growers and data from expert consultants and the literature on CRW ecology and behavior.
First commercialized in 2003, Cry3Bb1 corn has since 2009 experienced heavy CRW damage in at least 11 states throughout the Corn Belt. CRW resistance to this trait and cross-resistance to mCry3A has been verified through diet and plant bioassays, but little is known about the emergence and spread of resistance in the field. We hypothesize that a comprehensive agent-based model based on Cry3Bb1 will provide valuable insights into these phenomena, ensuring the soundness of integrated pest and resistance management efforts to extend efficacy of pest control strategies.
Our model, the first of its kind focused on insecticidal corn, will include, among other variables: refuge strategy, inheritance of resistance, insect numbers, initial proportion and spatial distribution of resistant insects, combination of traits used, potential fitness costs to CRW of resistance, crop rotation, and insecticide strategies. We will perform sensitivity analyses on these variables, alone and in combination, simulating “real-life” scenarios and identifying conditions most likely to delay or accelerate insect resistance development.
Quantifying the Role of Helicoverpa zea Host Plants in Bt Resistance Management
Jeff Gore - Mississippi State University
Angus Catchot - Mississippi State University
Don Cook - Mississippi State University
Fred Musser - Mississippi State University
The corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), is an important insect pest of cotton and soybean in the southern U.S. Although it is not considered a significant pest, corn earworm also completes development on field corn during early to mid-summer every year. Field corn is considered to be the most important host of corn earworm from early June to early July and a large percentage of the population passes through corn at this time. Crops modified to express insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis have revolutionized insect management in the southern U.S. However, the development of resistance could threaten the sustainability of this technology. Research aimed at understanding the biology and ecology of target pests is critical to minimizing the risk of resistance. The proposed research objectives will attempt to address some of the gaps in our knowledge of H. zea ecology. Specifically, this project will address the role of cultivated and non-cultivated host plants in the population dynamics of H. zea as it relates to the sustainability of Bt crops. The objectives are designed to better quantify the temporal and spatial occurrence of H. zeaon host plants, identify critical non-cultivated hosts that may be important in the population structure of H. zea, to gain a better understanding of pupal survival and moth emergence from various host plants, and determine how host plants contribute to the variation in H. zea susceptibility to Bt proteins.
Extending durability of aphid resistance by understanding the mechanisms of virulence to Rag-genes in soybeans
Matthew O’Neal - Iowa State University
Andrew Michel - The Ohio State University
Raman Bansal - The Ohio State University
The discovery of Aphis glycines (soybean aphid) in the US led to the discovery of resistance to A. glycines (Rag) in genes in soybean. A Rag1+Rag2 pyramid provides season long protection from economic levels of A. glycines without insecticides. However, this pyramid is not aphid-free; a virulent biotype is capable of surviving on the Rag1+Rag2 pyramid. To what extent field observations of A. glycines on a Rag1+Rag2 pyramid are virulent is not clear. Recently, we discovered when virulent biotypes first colonize Rag-soybeans, subsequent colonization by avirulent biotypes is more successful than on uninfested Rag-soybean, or those previously infested with avirulent aphids—revealing an obviation of aphid-resistance. As a result, field prevalence of virulent biotypes may be overestimated. It is unclear how virulent aphids survive on Rag-soybean, how this virulence is conferred to avirulent biotypes and if the survival of avirulent biotypes offers an ‘in-plant’ refuge similar to that of IRM programs for resistant crops. Predators influence the frequency of resistance (i.e. virulence) and are a significant source of A. glycines mortality. How the obviation of resistance and predation influence the frequency of biotypes is unknown. We propose to improve our understanding of aphid biotypes and how they interact on susceptible and resistant plants. Our objectives are:
- Measure the suppression of plant defense leading to obviation of resistance in soybean;
- Determine the ecological significance of obviation of resistance and its interaction with predation;
- Model the impact of obviation of resistance and predation on the frequency of aphid virulence
Entomopathogenic Nematodes as Part of Corn Rootworm Resistance Management
Tom Coudron, Bruce Hibbard and Kent Shelby, USDA-ARS, Columbia, MO
Western corn rootworm (WCR) is a major pest of corn. Dependence on a single control mechanism has favored development of resistance for cry toxins expressed in corn. Thus alternative and complimentary management solutions are needed. Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) have proven valuable in mitigating WCR damage in corn, including Bt corn by reducing the number of surviving Bt-resistant WCR. Roots of some corn, when damaged by WCR, emit the volatile sesquiterpene (E)-I3-caryophyllene (EI3C) that has been shown to attract EPNs. In Bt-corn, resistant larvae feed longer and therefore are capable of eliciting higher levels of EI3C, consequently raising the attraction of EPNs toward the damaged root. Different EPN species and strains have been shown to differ in response to EI3C and environmental conditions. Consequently, mitigation of WCR with EPNs is dependent on utilizing the best combination of corn hybrid(s) and EPN strain(s). Improving EPNs for response to EI3C and temperature extremes, and implementing soil amendments that improve soil conditions and support alternate hosts (e.g., cover crops) are additional features that will enhance EPN persistence. We propose to select strains of EPNs for WCR management which have improved infectivity, persistence in the field, and which have increased attraction to EI3C emitted from damaged corn roots.
Why does Diabrotica virgifera sample the double-stranded RNA in its environment?
Phillip D. Zamore - University of Massachusetts Medical School
Diabrotica virgifera virgifera, the western corn rootworm, is a devastating pest, causing annual crop damage and pest control costs >$1 billion. The ability to silence essential D. virgifera genes via environmental RNA interference (eRNAi)—feeding with double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) or dsRNA-expressing transgenic plants—represents a powerful and promising scheme to manage this pest. However, the development of resistance—e.g., by selection of mutants with an impaired eRNAi pathway—would undermine such an approach. Our central hypothesis is that discovering the sources and identities of the dsRNA naturally sampled by D. virgifera will help us understand why the eRNAi pathway is maintained in this species. We believe that such an understanding will be critical for the design of strategies that discourage the development of resistance to dsRNA-expressing crops. We seek to explain why some insects sample the dsRNA in their environments, while others do not. What selective pressures maintain this trait in D. virgifera and other Coleoptera? Why have Diptera seemingly lost the ancestral capacity to transform dsRNA from the environment into intracellular siRNAs that direct RNAi? We propose to develop new deep sequencing methods to identify the long dsRNA molecules in the field environment and compare them to the siRNAs present in D. virgifera larvae feeding in the field; to use evolutionary genomics to identify computationally candidate genes encoding proteins required for dsRNA-uptake or systemic spread; and to apply CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering methods to D. virgifera, to test experimentally the importance of these candidate genes in eRNAi.