Biotech company Pheronym recently received a National Science Foundation grant to help the company bring its nematode pheromone pest control product to market. In December 2019, Pheronym sent nematodes (microscopic roundworms) to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory as part of an investigation focused on environmentally friendly agricultural pest control.
Certain types of nematodes contain bacteria in their gut that kill insects that are harmful to crops. Pheromones produced by the nematodes are what signal the nematodes to disperse and find new insects to infect. Pheronym developed technology that uses pheromones to control nematodes to optimize their use as agricultural pest control.
Pheronym’s ISS National Lab investigation, done in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture, sought to study nematodes in microgravity to uncover new pheromone production mechanisms and other insights that could help improve Pheronym’s pest control product formulation. Learn more in the ISS360 article “On the Hunt: Studying Insect-Killing Worms in Space.”