Many of the most widely used insecticides today act on only a handful of exploited targets, including the organophosphates, which block acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that helps control nerve activity. Some experts are concerned that these older, less-selective insecticides could pose heath risks and theres a growing effort underway to find safer replacements.
Targeting the ryanodine receptor may offer a promising alternative, researchers say. Ryanodine, a natural alkaloid discovered years ago in a species of tropical plant, has been used to study muscle physiology in a wide variety of organisms, including insects and mammals. Ryanodine receptors regulate muscle and nerve activities by modifying levels of internal calcium in these cells. These receptors exist in both mammals and insects but have distinct differences. Researchers have known that ryanodine itself has insecticidal properties, but no synthetic molecules had previously been identified that potently and selectively target these receptors in insects, until now.
Nihon Nohyaku Co., Ltd., based in Japan, and Bayer CropScience AG in Germany have jointly developed Flubendiamide, the first example of the phthalic acid diamides, a novel class of insecticides that activate the ryanodine receptor. The insecticide is highly effective against many d