Researchers are turning to natural solutions like nematodes, spiders, and cover crops to fight the notoriously destructive rootworm in corn crops. “Western corn rootworm has evolved resistance to nearly every chemical and biotech tool deployed against it in the past few decades,” including Monsanto's genetically modified Bt corn, says The Progressive Farmer.
Researchers at UC-Riverside conducted genomic sequencing of five nematode families in work that could improve their performance as a biocontrol against insect damage to crops.
Nematodes, tiny soil-dwelling animals, cause billions of dollars of crop losses each year. But researchers at U-Missouri and the University of Bonn "have found the first genetic evidence linking one method these animals use to attack plants," says a Missouri release. The scientists "proved that nematodes use a specialized hormone to help them feed."