Can we control populations of agricultural insect pests by affecting the gut microbiota with oral exposure to bacteria-killing viruses?

Science / Life Sciences

Insects play important roles in nature as pollinators, food and decomposers. When food is abundant, such as on a plantation, some insects can reproduce uncontrollably and become pests. Pests are generally controlled with pesticides that can contaminate food and the environment. Alternative control methods are essential for the development of sustainable agriculture. The guts of insect pests contain numerous bacteria that influence insect nutrition, development, and immunity. Therefore, is it possible to control agricultural pest populations by causing an imbalance in these insect bacteria through oral exposure to bacteria-killing viruses, the phages? This intestinal disturbance aims to affect the health of insects, reducing their lifespan and making them more sensitive to control and, thus, reducing or avoiding the use of pesticides and transgenic plants.

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