Purification and Testing of Corn-based Biopesticide

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2019: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2020
Grant Recipient: University of Pennsylvania
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Surinder Chopra
Penn State Univ

Information Products


  • Agronomic: corn


  • Pest Management: botanical pesticides

    Proposal abstract:

    For human and environmental health, it is essential to adopt safe crop protection strategies to achieve sustainable production of economically important crops. The flavonoids are predominant compounds produced in plants that confer resistance to fungal diseases and insect infestations. Our recent work has established that flavonoids such as 3-Deoxyanthocyanidins (3-DAs) can effectively reduce the performance of pathogens and insect pests of corn and sorghum. In this project, we propose to extract and apply flavonoids as biopesticide keeping in line with the overarching goal to develop low-risk suppression tactics, including use of biopesticides, biological control, and products of both traditional breeding and molecular genetic technology. Efficacy of isolated and purified 3-DAs as a fungicide was already demonstrated by our lab. Current research has also indicated the potential of 3-DAs as an insecticide. We have recently identified and characterized a corn genotype designated as UE that overexpress several flavonoid compounds including 3-DAs. In this project, we aim to establish the insecticidal role of 3-DAs specifically against fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda, FAW) which is one of the major insect pests of corn in the Americas and has recently become an invasive pest in parts of Africa and India. We will extract and purify the 3-DAs from flavonoid over-producing corn inbred line UE and confirm its insecticidal activity against FAW establishing its potential as a biopesticide. The impact of this research will be to reduce synthetic chemicals in IPM strategies leading to a sustainable and environment-friendly pest management system.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1: Purification and processing of 3-DAs from flavonoid over-producing corn line to use as a biopesticide.

    Expected outcome: We will grow approximately 2,000 plants of corn flavonoid overproducer line UE for medium-scale isolation and will partially purify 3-DA compounds to use as a biopesticide.

    Objective 2: Confirming biological activity and efficacy of isolated 3-DAs.

    Expected outcome: A positive result will confirm the bioactivity of 3-DAs as insect feeding deterrents. Further, this objective will help us to understand the mode of action of these compounds.

    Objective 3: Testing the efficacy of 3-DAs as a biopesticide in field trials

    Expected outcome: The 3-DAs can potentially control FAW and other insect infestations effectively providing us an alternative biopesticide to integrate into IPM as a sustainable pest control approach.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.