Monsanto Company has announced that six recipients will be awarded research grants as part of the Insect Management Knowledge Program (IMKP). The program, which started in early 2013 as the Corn Rootworm Knowledge Program, provides merit-based awards of up to $250,000 per award per year for up to three years for outstanding research that will not only enhance the collective understanding of insect management, but help address significant challenges and issues in agriculture.

“The valuable research that is being generated through this program will provide industry and academia further opportunity to enhance our collective understanding of insect management, leading to even more effective solutions for farmers in the future,” said Dr. Sherri Brown, vice president of science strategy for Monsanto and co-chair of the program.

The IMKP is guided by a 10-person Advisory Committee that is co-chaired by Dr. Brown, and Dr. Steven Pueppke, associate vice president of research and graduate studies for Michigan State University. The committee consists of academics and growers, and provides guidance on integrated pest management, as well as recommendations for areas of basic research on insect resistance and management that would be of interest to growers, the academic community and Monsanto. Earlier this year, the program expanded its focus to include insects that are economically damaging to any U.S. row crop.

“This IMKP grant will allow us to move our laboratory-based studies of the molecular mechanisms of gene silencing in insects into an actual field testing setting, which I couldn’t do with more traditional biomedical research funding agencies,” said Dr. Philip Zamore, professor of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology, and co-director of the RNA Therapeutics Institute at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. 

The six awards granted focus on a number of items from addressing the management of insect threats such as whitefly, soybean aphid, and corn earworm resistance to creating a new model for determining how key risk factors affect the development of insect resistance in transgenic Bt corn. The award recipients are:

  • Peter Ellsworth, University of Arizona
  • Felicia Wu, Michigan State University
  • Jeff Gore, Mississippi State University
  • Matthew O’Neal, Iowa State University
  • Tom Coudron, USDA-ARS
  • Philip Zamore, University of Massachusetts

"I am very appreciative that the Insect Management Knowledge Program is providing a grant for our team to model how the most devastating pest of U.S. corn, the corn rootworm, develops resistance to insect control products, and how management practices can help combat this problem,” said Felicia Wu, university distinguished professor at Michigan State University.

A listing of the winners and background on their projects is available on the Monsanto Insect Management Knowledge Program webpage.