Investigating RNAi as a management tool for prairie wireworms

Project Details

Status: Active
Investment: $150,000
Commodity: Multiple Crops
Organization: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - Lethbridge
Investigator: John Laurie

Wireworms is a pest of serious concern for many growers in Alberta. This soil-dwelling insect is complex, consisting of multiple species having long life spans with the ability to damage numerous crops.

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

Wireworms is a pest of serious concern for many growers in Alberta. This soil-dwelling insect is complex, consisting of multiple species having long life spans with the ability to damage numerous crops. Effective chemical control for wireworms has not been available in Canada since 2004, but new chemicals are in the pipeline for registration. However, a changing regulatory landscape has seen chemicals questioned or removed from the marketplace, meaning that non-chemical integrated pest management methods are needed for wireworm control.

An integrated approach with targeted and environmentally-friendly tools is needed to sustainably manage wireworm. Researchers aim to address this wireworm problem in wheat by developing RNAi as a tool for wireworm suppression. RNAi has the potential to be powerful, targeted, and environmentally-friendly and has been shown to have efficacy against over 20 insect crop pests.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

RNAi treatments will target crucial genes within wireworms, severely impeding growth or killing the larvae outright, and degrading quickly after impact. This technology has the potential to dramatically reduce the populations of pest wireworms in crop fields while leaving other insects unaffected.

This technology would save crops from many thousands of dollars of wireworm damage each cycle, and can be used to protect numerous cereal, pulse, and root/tuber crops.

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

Producers will be involved in this project through regular extension activities. Findings will be communicated through talks at producer group meetings, scientific conferences, and interviews and ag media.

Sign-Up For Updates

Subscribe to our newsletter to be in the know about what's happening in agricultural research and RDAR.