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
Montague, Prince Edward Island-based Solarvest has announced that it has used its algal-based production platform to express bioactive therapeutic proteins. The proof of ...
Jeff Gelski writes in foodbusinessnews.net that algae oil is now in the toolbox of alternative oils shown to replace partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which cause trans...
UC San Diego’s efforts to produce innovative and sustainable solutions to the world’s environmental problems have resulted in a partnership with the region’s surfing indu...
Algae.Tec has announced a collaboration agreement for the commercialization of its algae production technology with Larimar Energy SRL, of the Dominican Republic. The ene...
Earthrise Nutritionals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo, Japan’s DIC Corporation, is on schedule to complete construction in August, 2015, of a new extraction plant fo...
Tom Redmond and Yuko Takeo report for Bloomberg.com that, after 10 years of developing algae as a nutritional supplement generating $37.8 million in annual revenue, Japan...
Biocrude oil obtained from hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of algae can be an energy-efficient replacement for the fossil crude oil normally used in the production of fue...
Scientists have been investigating the likely future impact of changing environmental conditions on ocean phytoplankton, which forms the basis of all the oceans' food cha...
Algiran, an Iranian algal biotech company, has recently established a pilot scale algal cultivation demonstration facility at the Chabahar Free Zone, in the Baluchistan P...
Bigelow Laboratory, of East Boothbay, Maine, and the University of Mississippi have formed a five-year Strategic Inter-Institutional Partnership Agreement for collaborati...
Jessie Rack reports for NPR that demand for plant protein of all types is growing in concert with the growing interest in the U.S. to reduce meat consumption. People, fro...
Nitrogen and phosphate nutrients are among the biggest costs in cultivating algae for biofuels. Sandia National Laboratories molecular biologists Todd Lane and Ryan Davis...
The Asahi Shimbun reports that an experimental facility to produce oil from algae was constructed on former farmland that was abandoned after the March 2011 Great East Ja...
Mark Harris writes in the Guardian about a pilot project in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where Dr. Peter Lammers, a professor in algal bioenergy at Arizona State University, a...
MicroBio Engineering, Inc. has announced a new line of 100 and 1,000 liter Algae Raceways™, building on the success of their popular 0.5 m2 (5.5 ft2) and 3.5 m2 (40 ft2),...