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Press release Ghent University - Thursday, May 24, 2018

Bio-engineers from Ghent develop biological control of fruit flies

Researchers from Ghent University and ILVO have developed a biological method to combat fruit flies that live on fresh fruit. This new method is harmless for other organisms: a first!

Invasive Asian fruit fly

Fruit flies looking for leftovers in the kitchen: annoying, but only a small threat in comparison with the invasive Asian fruit fly. This kind of fly looks for fresh fruit that is still hanging on the tree, creating lot of damage for fruit growers as a result.

Up to now, attempts to combat this kind of fly have produced few useful results. Researchers at Ghent University have changed that: doctoral student Clauvis Taning (Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University) and his promotor Prof. Guy Smagghe and co-promotor Hans Casteels from Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO), have now found a successful way to combat these fruit flies.

Biological pest control method

The researchers treated the flies at the level of certain RNA molecules in the cells of these harmful fruit flies, via a bio-method known in science as RNA interference. No chemical classical pesticides are used.

Harmless for other animals

Because the method specifically targets certain cells in the fruit flies, this is harmless to other animals. And that is unique.

Currently, the researchers are working on a way to apply this method in practice.

Info

Prof. Guy Smagghe and Dr. Clauvis Taning
Department of Plants and Crops, Ghent University
Plant Sciences Unit, ILVO
M +32 (0)494 24 09 85 / +32 (0)485 47 59 88
guy.smagghe@ugent.be / tiziclauvis.taningnji@ugent.be
Co-promotor: martine.maes@ilvo.vlaanderen.be
Source: UGent