Currently, multi-species pesticides are used extensively in agriculture in many parts of the world. These pesticides are effective but have several drawbacks including stress on bee colonies and concerns about impact on human health including links with cancers. Attractant pheromones for a range of pest species have been known about for decades but have seen little use due to high cost of synthesis.
Existing routes to attractant pheromones for five pest species including: Carob moth, Pistachio twig borer, Flat grain beetle, Italian subterranean termite and Southern green stink bug are reviewed. Existing pathways consist of as many as eleven synthetic steps. In addition, the starting materials used decades ago are in some cases not commercially available as off-the-shelf chemicals any more. Use of chiral separation techniques was commonplace in many of the existing routes. These factors push up the cost of production using existing pathways.
Current research progress in this project of the synthesis of suitable attractants for the Flat grain beetle and Carob moth are discussed. A simple to synthesise analogue of the Flat grain beetle attractant is currently with the external sponsor company. We await results of trials of this molecule with live beetles.
Existing pathways to the attractant pheromones of five pest species reviewed are currently cumbersome and for commercial utility to be realised these need to be reduced in complexity. An exciting use of a straight-forward molecule for the attraction of the Flat grain beetle shows promise.
The aim of this project is to use advances in computer-aided synthesis design and new synthetic techniques to reduce the cost of attractant pheromones and hence make their use to trap pest species more attractive to agri-business.
If you would like to attend, please contact Dr David Ward for a link to Microsoft Teams.
Ashley Broughton is an MRes student, working under the supervision of Dr Noha Ziedan.