Japan-Systems Approaches to Addressing Food Security: Novel methodology for pest control using key regulators of insect survival against infection

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: College of Medical, Veterinary &Life Sci


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Description This joint BBSRC - Japan Science and Technology Agency programme was based around partnership and project development and knowledge exchange in the field of insect immunity and insect survival to environmental challenge.

1. The main scientific objectives were to:

- Achieve novel methodology for insect crop pest control by targeting the insect immune system using two approaches:

- Develop a completely new class of environmentally friendly insecticides. Screening, isolation, structural determination, in vivo testing and systems biology analysis (metabolomics) of novel immune regulators derived from microbial secondary metabolites.

- identify and and functionally assess key gut regulatory genes which modulate insect host survival against oral infections via a genome wide RNAi screen

The scientific objectives have been achieved.

- We have shown that a derivative of microbial celastramycin A is effective against a crop pest species (M. sexta). Administration of the celastramycin A derivative increases susceptibility to infection (Dornan et al., 2016, ms in preparation).
- Samples of infected Manduca gut have been analysed by metabolomic analysis (ms in preparation as above)
- Transcriptomics samples of M. sexta gut regions have been prepared (awaiting effective annotation of Manduca genome - not yet released)

2. We organised and hosted several successful international collaborative and knowledge exchange events as follows:

- Young Researchers' Conference, Sendai, April 18-20th April 2013

- BBSRC/JST-funded international meeting 'The insect Epithelium', at Glasgow, Scotland, UK was on epithelial stress and immune function in insects, which included world leaders in systems biology of immune function and xenobiotic handling in insect crop pest species.
The conference held April 22-25, Glasgow, UK.
Conference website: https://sites.google.com/site/2014epitheliome/Home

A Special Issue for Insect Molecular Biology and Biochemistry followed: 'The Insect Epitheliome'. Chief Editor: Sarjeet Gill. Editors: Shireen Davies, Dmitri Boudko), during 2015.

- Second Young Researchers Conference, Sendai, Japan, January 22-23rd 2015.

3. We developed high impact joint research publications:

Iwashita S, Suzuki H, Goto A, Oyama T, Kanoh H, Kuraishi T, Fuse N, Yano T,
Oshima Y, Dow JAT, Davies SA, Kurata S. A Receptor Guanylate Cyclase, Gyc76C,
Mediates Humoral, and Cellular Responses in Distinct Ways in Drosophila Immunity.
Front Immunol. 2020 Jan 28;11:35. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.00035. eCollection
2020. PubMed PMID: 32063902; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6999089.

'A novel cGMP signaling pathway that modulates NF-kB activation in innate immune responses' submitted to Cell Research, 2019
Exploitation Route - Research grant to capitalise on/extend initial findings including adding to narrative towards potential spinout development.
- Suitable funding to continue this UK-Japan collaboration.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

Description Although this grant did not fund research work, it has resulted in publications. However, as a partnership grant, it has allowed development opportunities towards novel means for insect pest control for Food Security. It has also been instrumental for guiding and fostering new international collaborations, after a highly successful international focussed conference, which was followed by a Special Issue volume (Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 67, 2015) highlighting approaches used for novel insect control, guest edited by one of the grant PIs (Shireen Davies). Finally, the grant was very successful at fostering training and networking for young researchers in an international context and was very useful knowledge exchange towards PhD student publications (e.g., Brinzer et al., Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol., 2015; Cannell et a;l., Peptides, 2016; Gor et al., ms in preparation).
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Societal

Description 'Innovation in Crop Protection - Developing a UK Strategy'
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Description H2020 SFS-03a - 2014 Native and Alien pests in Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry
Amount € 7,000,000 (EUR)
Funding ID 634361 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 04/2015 
End 05/2019
Title Metabolomics for lepidopteran insects 
Description We have performed metabolomics on Lepidopteran insect species (Manduca sexta). 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This methodology will be used to inform work in a current H2020 programme (nEUROSTRESSPEP). 
Title Microbial modulators of insect immunity. 
Description Microbial-derived compound assayed on lepidopteran insect species in lethality assays. Compound increases insect susceptibility to infection. 
Type Of Material Physiological assessment or outcome measure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact These data will inform development of new mode-of-action, microbe-derived compounds as pest insect biocides. 
Description Imune modulators 
Organisation Tohoku University
Country Japan 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution 'Omics, physiology, assays, insect pests
Collaborator Contribution Multi disciplinary interactions (Chemistry), compounds
Impact Multi disciplinary interactions (Chemistry) with provision of compounds as insect immune suppressors.
Start Year 2012
Description Student engagement, Tohoku University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Bi-lateral Japa-UK research and presentation skills workshop for undergraduate and post-graduate students, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2015