Detect the Lesser Grain Borer in Stored Grain Using an Application of a New Science and Technology Phase I

Award Information
Department of Agriculture
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Phase I
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Small Business Information
16651 W. Sprague Rd #C204, Strongsville, OH, 44136-1757
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Nicholas Smilanich
(440) 234-3260
Business Contact:
Nicholas Smilanich
(440) 234-3260
Research Institution:
The long term goal of this project is to eliminate insect pests from the US food and feed supply with a sensor device, minimize exposure of humans and animals to residual chemicals or insecticides, and reduce financial losses due to grain damage. The lesser grain borer (LGB) is a devastating, long-lived pest of stored wheat, corn and other cereal grains in the US and other parts of the world. Adults and larvae are voracious feeders causing damaged kernels, insect fragments in milled products, powdery residues (frass), a characteristic pungent odor, price discounts, and possible rejection of commodity. The LGB can penetrate many types of packaging material including seed sacks in addition to sound grain. Grain production, storage, and processing are important industries. More than 12 billion bushels of corn and wheat are grown in the US each year with a value exceeding $25 billion. Additionally, over a billion bushels of barley, oats, rice, rye, and sorghum are grown each year with a value over $3 billion. It has been estimated that 5-10% of stored grain in developed countries and 35% of stored grain in developing countries is lost to insect damage. Because of the extensive reach of this insect, there is also very broad societal benefit in achieving widespread use of effective sensors for detecting the insects early. Estimates of the cost of grain loss due to insect, mold, and mycotoxin damage to the 15 billion bushels of grain stored in the US each year have ranged from $500 million to more than $1 billion. Domestic flour millers have a low tolerance for live insects: their presence signs of insect feeding can result in grain rejection. Rejection produces additional fumigation and transportation expenses, as much as 10-20% of the grain value. The foundation of a successful integrated pest management (IPM) program is an effective monitoring system. SDC declares that it can provide that foundation with its sensor device. SDC has two objectives in this proposal: 1) Modify the preliminary prototype device for LGB detection, using basic and applied knowledge, and compare its performance and efficacy with current methods in a field test and 2) Demonstrate uniqueness and the concentration levels of marker pheromones associated with infestations of the LGB. SDC's hypothesis is that specific organic volatiles can be good markers to differentiate insects infesting stored crops from other harmless emanations, e.g. gases associated with normal crop odor, or other MVOCs. Marker biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) from this insect, the aggregation pheromones dominicalene 1 and dominicalene 2, are found in sufficient concentrations in the headspace in enclosures containing these insects to permit detection with SDC's highly sensitive and selective sensor device. SDC is confident that this work will result in a complete sensor device that can be used effectively to detect BVOCs from lesser grain borers, relate those BVOCs to LGB infestation size, and provide the information needed by farmers and elevator operators to take action to prevent infestation growth in our food and feed supply.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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