Entomologists win national award

Tom Hunt and Bob Wright
Tom Hunt and Bob Wright

UNL entomology faculty, Tom Hunt and Bob Wright, were members of a group of scientists who received the 2011 Integrated Pest Management Team Award from the Entomological Foundation. This award was presented at the 2011 Entomological Society of America annual meeting, Nov. 14 in Reno, Nev.

The award recognizes the successful pest-control efforts of a small, collaborative work team that includes at least one entomologist from the private sector and one from the public sector.

Hunt and Wright were members of the European Corn Borer team, which documented a 14-year project to suppress the pest Ostrinia nubialis (Hübner). The project followed the adoption of transgenic corn, specifically corn hybrids expressing one or more insecticidal proteins of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis.

The team found a significant decline in ECB larval and moth populations for five major corn-growing states in the central United States.

Historically, ECB has been the most widespread insect pest of U.S. corn, responsible for an estimated annual loss of $1 billion. The team had access to, or collected, long-term (50+ years) larval and moth population data that allowed a quantitative analysis of population change before and after the introduction of genetically modified Bt corn. In brief, suppression occurs over time because Bt corn provides virtually 100 percent control of the pest with no field-evolved resistance.

The team's findings were reported by Science, National Public Radio, Associated Press, German Public Radio and other news outlets.

Other ECB team members include Bill Hutchison, Eric Burkness, and Roger Moon (University of Minnesota); Paul Mitchell (University of Wisconsin), Mike Gray (University of Illinois), Rick Hellmich (USDA-ARS), Kevin Steffey (Dow AgroSciences), Von Kaster (Syngenta).

In addition, several associate team members were instrumental to this project, including Shelby Fleischer (Penn State University), Mark Abrahamson (Minnesota Department of Agriculture), K. Hamilton (Wisconsin Department of Agriculture), K. Pecinovsky (Iowa State University), Tim Leslie (Long Island University), Brian Flood (DelMonte Foods), Tom Rabaey (General Mills) and Earl Raun (University of Nebraska).

More details at: http://go.unl.edu/ghs