Crop Science & Insecticides

Enabling Breakthroughs in Bio-Insecticide Discovery

Venom peptides are proving effective against pest organisms, offering alternatives to traditional approaches to bio-insecticide discovery and development.

The UK's largest venom library

nAChR, GABA and GluCl targeted arrays

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Venom & Bio-Insecticides

LocustInsect pests can reduce global crop yields by 10-14% annually and damage 9-20% of stored food crops. Several of these pest species are resistant to available insecticides. Many venomous animals have evolved to kill invertebrate prey, so it is logical to consider their venoms as potential bio-insecticides. Venoms are a complex mixture of peptides, small molecules and proteins that affect molecular targets such as ion channels, GPCRs and kinases, often with exquisite potency and selectivity. They have been developed through millions of years of evolution, rather than a few hundred years of scientific study. Isolated peptides from the venom of spiders or other venomous insectivorous animals, such as centipedes and scorpions, may have the potential to serve as bio-insecticides.

Chemical insecticides usually act on a small number of molecular targets (e.g. nAChR channels, Gaba-gated Cl- channel, Glutamate-gated Cl- channel [GluCls]) and are therefore highly selective for insect pests. As a result, hundreds of species of insects have developed resistance to one or more classes of these insecticides. This development of insecticide resistance and concerns about environmental and human safety has resulted in a demand for new, environmentally sustainable bio-insecticides, using active ingredients with novel modes of action.

In contrast, venoms have a broad spectrum of insect-killing, and immobilising abilities that have evolved to avoid the development of resistance. At Venomtech we offer a number of unique approaches to development of bio-insecticides from venom:

  • Venom toxin purification service – we can purify your selected toxin from venoms in our library
  • Venom formulation – create your own novel venom mimic from mixtures of purified venom components
  • T-VDAInsect – screen our venom array to identify novel leads for your traditional insecticide targets or discover novel targets

Bio-Insecticide activity of Venomtech crude venom preparations on Diptera larvae. 

Percentage lethality of the 30 crude venom diversity set.

Bio-Insecticide activity crude venom preparations on Diptera larvae

The venom diversity set is an effective tool for finding novel insecticide activity; 12 of the 30 venoms tested were active at one hour.


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