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Controllable-Spectrum, Safe Insecticide

An insecticide which can be applied in almost any amount with complete safety
  [vote for,

To avoid danger to people, animals and good insects, the typical insecticide can only be applied in limited amounts. This limiting of the amounts that can be applied naturally limits the effectiveness against the target species as well. One could provide almost complete safety and effectiveness by applying a mixture of the following:
(1) Precursors to a toxin which are relatively harmless to all species
(2) An enzyme which is activated by a substance unique to the target species, and which assembles the precursors into a general-purpose, or a species-specific toxin:
Precursor One + Precursor Two + Precursor n... [Enzyme] ==> Toxin
(3) Enzymes which are activated by a substance unique to protected species, yielding products which inhibit the production of the toxin.

In practice, one would most likely need several enzymes to form the trigger-to-toxin chain of reactions for each target species. A trigger enzyme might be obtained from a pheromone receptor in the species' olfactory system, for example.

Item (3) is probably not necessary, but worth considering. For added safety, one might try including an enzyme which destroys the toxin after use.

This concept might also be useful for a "just-in-time" repellent. The repellent substance would only be produced when and where it was needed, thereby avoiding any harmful effects it may have.

This would of course also be useful for agriculture.
Alvin, Nov 14 2011

Sounds very similar to this... http://books.google...insecticide&f=false
Baked?... [Alvin, Nov 17 2011]


       Why discourage him posting these ideas when they are well intentioned? He's not stopping anyone from posting.
rcarty, Nov 14 2011

       Ain't this the same as simply a toxin of the target species ?... most stuff is sortof binary with its target's makeup.   

       [21Q] I seem to recall about 3 weeks worth of "The HB Starring 21Quest" a couple years back.
FlyingToaster, Nov 14 2011

       Read [Alvin]'s profile, [21]; he (I assume from the username) explicitly states that his intention is to post a collection of ideas he's had over the years, at least one of which is absolutely fucking brilliant. Also, grow up.
Alterother, Nov 14 2011

       The toxin could be a commonly used, highly potent one, but it would only be produced when triggered by the presence of a substance produced by the target species. That's the purpose of the "pheromone receptor" enzyme. This enzyme would catalyze the production of the toxin from the precursors. This design ensures that there's no toxin at any time or anywhere except when a droplet contacts the surface of a targeted pest.
Alvin, Nov 14 2011

       Also, thanks for standing up for me. I really do have a large collection of ideas and I'd hate to see them go to waste when they might at least manage to inspire or entertain others. It will take me quite a while to post them all even at my present rate.
Alvin, Nov 14 2011

       Consider that almost all the enzymes, proteins etc, that make up life on earth are common to all species, and that the cases where there are unique molecules they are often common to an entire family of organisms not a single species.
WcW, Nov 14 2011

       // a substance unique to the target species //   


       Once you get away from their DNA (and about 97% or more of that is common), the majority of proteins used by insects are pretty much generic.   

       The exceptions might be certian types of venom; but since most venomous insects aren't pest species, but useful bio-controls, this is not helpful.   

       So, this is either a stupid idea, or the basis for a PhD, a multi-billion-dollar industry, and quite possibly a Nobel prize.   

       At this point, the jury is still out.
8th of 7, Nov 14 2011

       8th of 7,
Perhaps I didn't stress the word "pheromone" enough. Pheromones are complex organic compounds, but not proteins. Also, they are (hopefully) unique enough to each species for this purpose.
Alvin, Nov 14 2011

       Keep 'em coming, [Alvin].
Alterother, Nov 14 2011

       //So, this is either a stupid idea, or the basis for a PhD, a multi-billion-dollar industry, and quite possibly a Nobel prize.//   

       [Marked-For-Tagline] Although possibly to long of one.
MechE, Nov 14 2011

       /An enzyme which is activated by a substance unique to the target species, and which assembles the precursors into a general-purpose, or a species-specific toxin:/   

       Custom making an enzyme which works on a toxin and is itself activated by a third substance seems iffy: I think custom made enzymes would be hard. Since enzymes usually require certain conditions (moisture, pH etc) to work best, and organisms come already full of enzymes, this sort of strategy usually uses an enzyme already present in the target species. What you have then is a "prodrug" - inactive stuff which is enzymatically activated somehow in the target organism. Enzyme levels and activity do vary from species to species - even from human to human - an example here is aldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency in asians, which makes their faces turn bright red when they get into the liquor.   

       I think that the different toxicities of medicines for different animal species have to do with species specificity of their enzymatic handling - cats and tylenol being an example.   

       I do not know if any currently used insecticides are prodrugs but if you google prodrug and insecticide you will find lots of people fired up about the possibility.
bungston, Nov 17 2011

A custom enzyme would be a last resort for this. What I expect is that knowledge of the properties of existing enzymes could be used to find a suitable chain of reactions leading ultimately to the production of the toxin. The reaction chain chosen might very well be a long one though due to limited data.
Also, it could easily have stabilizers added for moisture and pH.
Alvin, Nov 17 2011

       //either a stupid idea, or the basis for a PhD// I don't understand what the "or" is doing in that sentence.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 18 2011


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