Technological watch

Developing Nanoinsecticides to Tackle Common Agricultural Pest

Agrotis ipsilon (Hufnagel) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) is a serious insect pest that damages many vital crops across the world.  During their development, A. ipsilon larvae may eat up to 400 cm2 of vegetation. Chemical pesticides have been commonly used to prevent A. ipsilon from destroying crops.

​​​​​​​Image Credit: Andrii Medvediuk/

Nanotechnology may be able to provide alternative technologies to alleviate concerns regarding the negative environmental consequences of using chemical pesticides. Increased exposure and toxicity of these chemicals can affect non-target organisms and ecosystems. Nanoparticle technology might evolve in two ways: (a) as a single crop protection system, or (b) as pesticide carriers.

Insecticide research focuses on the effects of chemically active substances on insect growth and enzyme activities, both deadly and sublethal. Insecticides disrupt an insect’s functional balance (oxidative stress), by producing more reactive oxygen species (ROS) while impairing their scavenging mechanisms.

Insects have significant antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), peroxidase (POX), and glutathione (L-glutamyl-L-cysteinylglycine, GSH). Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is an antioxidant enzyme that breaks down superoxide into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. In all aerobic organisms, CAT is primarily an H2O2-scavenging enzyme that eliminates H2O2 produced by developmental or environmental stimuli into water and oxygen.

POX can oxidize a wide range of molecules with either H2O2 or O2, with H2O2 being used to oxidize phenolic compounds. GSH is an electron donor (cofactor) for antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione peroxidases and glutathione S-transferases. The inter-simple sequence repeats (ISSR) are a valuable marker for detecting genetic variation and distinguishing closely related people.

In new research published in the journal

References and Further Reading
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  • Written by

    Megan CraigMegan graduated from The University of Manchester with a B.Sc. in Genetics, and decided to pursue an M.Sc. in Science and Health Communication due to her passion for combining science with content creation. As part of her studies, Megan partnered with Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre as a Digital Marketing Assistant, producing content and updating sections of their website. In her spare time, she loves to travel, exploring each location's culture and history - including the local cuisine. Her other interests include embroidery, reading fiction, and practicing her Japanese language skills.


    This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.