Biological control is a pest management strategy with the goal of reducing pest populations through human collaboration. Methods of biological control used to combat pests involve the physical removal of organisms and the application of predators, parasitoids, chemical insecticides, microbes, and viruses. However, many methods of biocontrol have proven to become ineffective overtime due to target organism adaptability taking place as a part of the natural process of evolution. As a result of previously failed attempts of utilizing different forms of biocontrol, the application of viruses as an alternative is in consideration by scientists to control pest populations. Application of viruses is a method of biocontrol that involves the use of modified or existent virus strands being released to infect targeted organisms. One of the more common and effective viruses used in biocontrol are Baculoviruses. Baculoviruses are pathogens that infect and kill insects as well as other arthropods. With high host specificities, these viruses have shown to have no pathogenic effects on humans, plants, mammals, or even non-targeted insects. In the form of biopesticides, they are also seen as safer alternatives to synthetic chemical insecticides which present risks with long-term environmental impacts. Although, due to the shortcomings of baculoviruses, they are currently restricted to high value crops or crops and insects that have become resistant to chemical insecticides. These shortcomings include speed of kill, high-host specificity, potential host development of resistance, and cost. Fortunately, unlike other biological control agents, baculoviruses can be genetically modified to improve these aspects. Continued development of these viruses through genetic engineering will likely provide safer long-term ecological impacts and more efficient pest control. This article is a product of a semester-long research project in BIOL342 Viruses and Technology course aimed to explore beneficial applications of viruses while honing skills for processing primary research literature.
Popular Methods of Biological Control and the Future of Baculoviruses.
Undergraduate Review, 16, 100-108.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol16/iss1/14
Articles published in The Undergraduate Review are the property of the individual contributors and may not be reprinted, reformatted, repurposed or duplicated, without the contributor’s consent.