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The objective of this work was to study the insecticidal effect of labramin, a protein that shows lectin—like properties. Labramin was isolated from seeds of the Beach Apricot tree, Labramia bojeri A. DC ex Dubard (Ericales: Sapotaceae), and assessed against the development of the Mediterranean flour moth Ephestia kuehniella Zeller (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), an important pest of stored products such as corn, wheat, rice, and flour. Results showed that labramin caused 90% larval mortality when incorporated in an artificial diet at a level of 1% (w/w). The presence of 0.25% labramin in the diet affected the larval and pupal developmental periods and the percentage of emerging adults. Treatments resulted in elevated levels of trypsin activity in midgut and fecal materials, indicating that labramin may have affected enzyme—regulatory mechanisms by perturbing peritrophic membranes in the midgut of is. kuehniella larvae. The results of dietary experiments with E. kuehniella larvae showed a reduced efficiency for the conversion of ingested and digested food, and an increase in approximate digestibility and metabolic cost. These findings suggest that labramin may hold promise as a control agent to engineer crop plants for insect resistance.
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