Walter Leal's Findings with Nobel Laureate Kurt Wuthrich
Walter Leal (UC Davis), co-chair of the 2016 International Congress of Entomology, teamed with Nobel laureate Kurt Wüthrich (Scripps Institute and ETH Zurich, Switzerland) to unravel how a carrier protein enables male moths to remotely recognize females of the same species.
Moth damage to U.S. agriculture alone exceeds $1 billion annually, thus the critical need for environmentally safe methods to control moth populations.
The practical implication of the Leal-Wüthrich work, which just appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (click here for the article), is that pheromone-binding proteins can be blocked. This interruption of male-female communication could lead to reduced crop damage without toxic compound applications.
In a second publication in the Early Edition of PNAS (click here for article) Leal and his colleagues at UC Davis reported transcriptome analysis of the southern house mosquito, which led to the identification of new odorant receptors and a novel mosquito repellent.