[ad name=”PhycoBiosciences AIM Interview”]

Innovations

Using diatoms to protect grain exports

February 10, 2014
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Diatoms to the rescue – photograph of diatoms arranged on a microscope slide  by W.M. Grant from the California Academy of Sciences Diatom Collection.

Diatoms to the rescue – photograph of diatoms arranged on a microscope slide
by W.M. Grant from the California Academy of Sciences Diatom Collection.

University of Adelaide researchers are using nanotechnology and the fossils of diatoms to develop a novel chemical-free and resistance-free way of protecting stored grain from insects.

The researchers are taking advantage of the unique properties of these single-celled algae. Diatoms have been called Nature’s nanofabrication factories because of their production of tiny (nanoscale) structures made from silica that have a range of properties of potential interest for nanotechnology.

“One area of our research is focused on transforming this cheap diatom silica, readily available as a by-product of mining, into valuable nanomaterials for diverse applications – one of which is pest control,” says Professor Dusan Losic, ARC Future Fellow in the University’s School of Chemical Engineering.

Dr. Dusan Losic, of the University of Adelaide’s School of Chemical Engineering is leading the diatom pest control research

Dr. Dusan Losic, of the University of Adelaide’s School of Chemical Engineering is leading the diatom pest control research

“There are two looming issues for the worldwide protection against insect pests of stored grain: firstly, the development of resistance by many species to conventional pest controls – insecticides and the fumigant phosphine – and, secondly, the increasing consumer demand for residue-free grain products and food,” Professor Losic says.

“In the case of Australia, we export grain worth about $8 billion each year – about 25 million tons – which could be under serious threat. We urgently need to find alternative methods for stored grain protection which are ecologically sound and resistance-free.”

The researchers are using a natural, non-toxic silica material based on the “diatomaceous earths” formed by the fossilization of diatoms. The material disrupts the insect’s protective cuticle, causing the insect to dehydrate.

“This is a natural and non-toxic material with a significant advantage being that, as only a physical mode of action is involved, the insects won’t develop resistance,” says Professor Losic.

“Equally important is that it is environmentally stable with high insecticidal activity for a long period of time. Therefore, stored products can be protected for longer periods of time without the need for frequent re-application.”

The project is being funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation. The researchers are in the final stages of optimizing the formula of the material.

More Like This…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2013 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics Inc. have announced that, in joint research into advanced biofuels, they have modified an algal strain to more than double its oil conte...
David Erickson writes in the (Montana) Missoulian that Clearas Water Recovery, a Missoula tech company formed eight years ago, has developed a patented process to use alg...
Will Yeates reports in DailyPlanet.com that an urban “algae farm” producing low-carbon protein and bio-fuel is one of the highlights on show this week at the future energ...
Carlsbad-based Surftech, a stand-up paddle (SUP) and Surfboard manufacturing company has announced its collaboration with BLOOM, a materials development company, to devel...
The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) reports that an international team has discovered an enzyme which allows microalgae to convert some of their fatty acid...
Watertechonline.com reports that the All-Gas project in the El Torno treatment plant in Chiclana, in southwestern Spain, in the province of Cádiz, has started its demonst...
The Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative, a technology-based economic development program funded by the state of Utah, has awarded a $175,320 grant for...
Cyanotech Corporation a leader in microalgae-based, high-value nutrition and health products, announced financial results for the third quarter and first nine months of f...
42 Technology has been appointed by LabXero, acoustic particle filtration technology company, to help develop pilot-scale biomanufacturing equipment that could significan...
Cody Nelson writes for MPRNews.org that a team of University of Minnesota-Duluth researchers wanted to know how shortening winters — and less ice cover on lakes — might i...
Israeli-based Algatechnologies, Ltd. (Algatech) has become the major shareholder in Supreme Health New Zealand, Ltd. (Supreme) to supply the rapidly growing markets in Ch...
Israeli-based Algatechnologies, Ltd. (Algatech), is teaming up with the Italian R&D company, Sphera Encapsulation S.r.l (Sphera), to develop innovative functional ingredi...