New plant compounds become pest control

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Pictured (left) is the ovarium of a normal mosquito. Pictured (center, right) are abnormally developed ovaria due to changes in the JHAs.

A team of researchers has identified plant compounds that can kill targeted pests, leaving the rest of the plant unharmed. Comprised of Dr. Oh Hyun-woo of the Korea Research Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) and Professors Sim Sang-wun and Je Yun-ho of Seoul National University, the research team identified plant compounds that can serve as a Juvenile Hormone Antagonists (JHA). They succeeded in isolating such substances from plants and this is expected to lead to the development of insecticides that are safe for both humans and the environment.

The juvenile hormone controls an insects’ metamorphosis, the process of emerging from an egg and shedding its skin on a regular basis. It also controls reproduction in female adults. Controlling the JHAs interrupt hormone activation and prevent insects from going through a normal metamorphosis and reproducing normally. Previously, this type of research was done by observing abnormal developments and deaths in targeted cells and insects. This time, however, the new technology used a “yeast/ two-hybrid” system to transform the mosquito’s junior hormone receptor. This made it easier to see whether or not the JHAs can affect the receptor. Also, using this process allowed the scientists to save both time and money.

For full article, see Korea.net.

Agriculture ministry develops plan for fostering R&D

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said Monday it developed a mid to long-term research and development (R&D) plan to foster technologies in the agriculture and food sector. The plan aims to increase value-added effects three percent a year and help South Korea export agricultural products worth $15 billion by 2022.

The ministry selected four major areas for investment in response to the criticism that previously it made small R&D investments scattering across too many areas. The four major areas are: enhancing global competitiveness; creating new growth engine; stable food supply, and; strengthening public happiness. The agricultural ministry designated 50 core technologies that would help tackle key issues that affect the public on the ground and achieve agricultural industry’s goals.

To invest in the 50 technologies, the ministry intends to switch from the prior small-scale investments worth one billion won ($869,975) each, covering an extensive spectrum, to large investments worth 10 billion won each focused on several areas.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

Korea and Netherlands agree to cooperate in agro sector

Korea has agreed with the Netherlands to cooperate in agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said Thursday.  Agriculture Minister Lee Dong-phil signed a memorandum of understanding with his Dutch counterpart Sharon Dijksma to enhance exchanges and cooperation in agricultural policies, the ministry said.

When it comes to agriculture policy, the Netherlands, the second largest exporter of agricultural and food products in the world after the U.S., has been a benchmark nation for Korea in that the country has advanced competitiveness in the agriculture sector, overcoming disadvantageous conditions for agro-businesses due in part to small land size. The ministry said the two governments will develop co-projects not only in policy but also in research and development activities. Combining the nation’s advanced information and technology with the agricultural sector is one of top policy priorities of the ministry.

Source: Korea Herald.