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INCT 2014: for the biorational control of pest-insect and phytopathogens

Grant number: 14/50918-7
Support type:Research Projects - Thematic Grants
Duration: July 01, 2017 - June 30, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Biology
Cooperation agreement: CNPq - INCTs
Principal Investigator:Maria Fátima das Graças Fernandes da Silva
Home Institution: Centro de Ciências Exatas e de Tecnologia (CCET). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos, SP, Brazil
Co-Principal Investigators:Antonio Gilberto Ferreira ; Edson Rodrigues Filho ; Fernando Carlos Pagnocca ; José Djair Vendramim ; Sérgio Florentino Pascholati


The National Institutes of Science and Technology Program (INCT), which was launched in July 2008 by the Ministry of Science and Technology - CNPq, with the collaboration of FAPESP, recruited scientists to work in networks in research areas that are strategic to the sustainable development of the country. Thus, the UFSCar aggregated in networks the best research groups in chemical ecological areas from five states and seven institutions to transform Brazil into the model country for the control of insects with a low environmental impact and created the National Institute of Science and Technology for the Biorational Control of Pest-Insect (NIST-BCPI). The headquarters of the NIST-BCPI are located in the CD-UFSCar. The NIST-BCPI was founded in December 2008 and is involved in teaching, research and extension oriented for the formation of skilled researchers and the generation of knowledge and agrochemical products through the following areas: i) natural products as sources for new pesticides; ii) semisynthetic modifications; iii) the mode of action of natural and synthetic pesticides via the inhibition of enzymes: immobilized enzymes reactors; iv) nanotechnology to improve activity, solubility and stability; and v) citrus diseases and resistance mechanisms. The training of qualified human resources was one of the primary aims of the NIST-BCPI and is reflected in the significant number of undergraduate students, MSc, PhD and post-doc, which concluded the course. In total, 3 students per researcher per year concluded the course, which is above average. This value is evaluated by CAPES (Higher Education Improvement Coordination) as excellent. The previously obtained results represent a significant contribution, 3 publications per researcher per year, which is above average. This value is evaluated by CAPES as excellent (level 7 in the Chemistry Department - UFSCar). Several patents have also been filed. We have a product on the market and two patents being developed by two companies. The NIST-BCPI used scientific knowledge and expertise to improve pest management practices for the benefit of Brazil and the environment. The NIST-BCPI has responded to grower needs by providing specific pest management solutions that foster competitiveness, sustainable crop production and environmental stewardship. However, due to the tropical climate, the number of insects in our Agriculture is very large; therefore, the challenge continues. The number of insects and microorganisrns that the NIST- BCPI was able to evaluate was small compared to the total number of pests in our Agriculture. Many pest species are exceptionally well equipped to respond to environmental stresses because of their short generation time and great reproductive potential. The use of chemical sprays to control insect and fungal diseases creates a potent environmental stress. There are now many examples of pests that have responded by developing resistance to one or more pesticides. In addition, few new pesticides are being developed and marketed for insects and microorganisrns because of the high cost of pesticide discovery and the necessary years of continuous and cumbersome research. Due to these challenges, investigators need to consider all of the possible routes to obtain novel pesticides. Therefore, we strongly advocate expanding the research of the NIST-BCPI. Thus, the new NIST for the Biorational Control of Pest-Insect and Phytopathogens (NIST-BCPIPP) aims to develop strategies for the control of some pest insects of soybean, passionflower and phytopathogens of citrus and to expand the studies that have already assessed some pests. The new NIST-BCPIPP will be expanding to an international network and intends to continue with the above lines of research (i-v), expanding and innovating with the current technologies. In studies with insect pests we intended to develop a more integrated management for soybean pests. In insects, the microorganisms living in their intestinal tract may perform several roles, among them aiding in the conversion of ingested substrates to nutrients that are necessary for their various stages of development until his adult and reproductive stage. The inhibition of the action of endosymbiotic microorganisms may be an alternate route for the selective and efficient control of herbivorous insects, thus we will also explore this new method. The mode of action of natural and synthetic pesticides via the inhibition of enzymes will be expanding: to enzymes xanthine oxidase, butyrylcholinesterase, cathepsin; studies of ligand-target interactions by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy; genetic study of cathepsin and chitin synthase enzymes of ants. In studies on citrus diseases we will evaluate new phytopathogens, and we also propose to enhance flavonoid accumulation in citrus tissues, via the transgenic overexpression of too transcription factors likely activating the flavonoid metabolic pathway. Orange peel represents a promising source of flavonoids and one million metric tons of peel residues are generated as a result of fruit processing. The biorefinery concept integrates facilities for the conversion of biomass into multiple value-added products, thus this technology will be used for extraction of flavonoids from citrus waste. (AU)