Source: Pioneer Hi-Bred news release

DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred recently completed a $1.5 million expansion of its insect rearing facility to create a more self-sufficient program to support insect control research efforts. The expansion includes additional rearing chambers and work areas that will allow Pioneer to increase the size of the diapausing, or hibernating, Western corn rootworm colony. The hibernating colonies are used to produce the corn rootworm eggs that are needed for field testing.

"Because of this expansion, we are able to better supply our researchers with the insects they need for their testing programs," said Laura Abad, senior research manager, Pioneer. "Our diapausing colony is derived from a population that was collected before any insect variants emerged. Therefore, by rearing our own rootworms in-house, we can be certain that we are not distributing any of these variants into the field in our testing programs."

Pioneer plans to provide all the Western corn rootworm eggs needed for field testing by 2010. These eggs will be used at research facilities across the U.S. to support various insect control initiatives, including Optimum AcreMax Insect Protection and next generation insect control research projects. In addition to rearing Western corn rootworms for field testing, the Pioneer Insectary also has a non-diapausing colony of Western corn rootworm, which produces eggs year round for greenhouse and lab testing for programs at the Johnston, Iowa, Redwood City, Calif., and Wilmington, Del., research centers.

The Insectary also maintains a European corn borer colony. This colony provides eggs for lab bioassays and greenhouse testing all year long. In the spring, the colony is increased to provide the millions of eggs needed for field testing.

Pioneer says the insect rearing facility plays a critical role throughout Crop Genetics Research and Development, from discovery and trait development research, to product development and characterization, to regulatory studies. The company said the increased capacity allows it to better support this research.