Opportunity Details

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Insect midgut epithelial cell culture systems (under review)

Focus Area: Enabling Technologies

Cell cultures are used in many fields of biological research to look at cellular responses to external inputs. They can serve as a predictor of responses by the whole organisms from which they were derived.  In the field of entomology, several types of cell-based assays have been used successfully to characterize cellular responses1,2.  In many of the described cases, the cell-based assays utilized recombinant techniques within cell lines to recreate the physiological target of an input. Alternatively, cell lines derived from non-midgut tissue that happened to be naturally susceptible to an insecticidal protein were used.

Primary cell cultures tend to closely resemble the morphology and physiological state of the cells they were isolated from3.  Therefore, the response of primary insect cell cultures may better reflect that of the intact insect than reconstituted cell lines without requiring prior knowledge of a response mechanism. However, it is challenging to isolate and culture midgut epithelial cells continuously and to preserve their differentiation capability as, to date, very few proliferation and differentiation factors specific to insect midgut cells have been identified.

At Corteva Agriscience™, our goal is to develop effective, sustainable, and durable solutions to agricultural challenges. We are looking for cell culture systems that combine the ease of use and reproducibility of cell lines with the preserved physiological status of primary cell culture.  We invite public and private sector scientists to join in our efforts by submitting a research proposal to develop insect midgut epithelial cell culture systems.

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1 Soberón, M., Portugal, L., Garcia-Gómez, B.I., Sanchez, J., Onofre, J., Gomez, I., Pacheco, S., Bravo, A., 2018. Cell lines as models for the study of Cry toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis. Insect biochemistry and molecular biology 93:66-78.

2 Smagghe, G., Goodman, C.L. and Stanley, D., 2009. Insect cell culture and applications to research and pest management. In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology-Animal 45:93-105.

3 Mandrioli, M., Monti, M., and Tedeschi, R., 2015.  A practical guide to insect cell cultures: establishment and maintenance of primary cell cultures. Halteres 6:132-141.

What We Are Seeking

We are interested in working with external groups to develop insect midgut epithelial cell culture systems, which maintain their physiological relevance over time.

We are seeking non-confidential proposals on any of the following topics that describe a research plan to:

  • Develop methods for establishment, long-term maintenance and cryopreservation of primary midgut epithelial cell cultures from lepidopterans or coleopterans that retain midgut epithelial cell characteristics. Proposals should include an explanation of how the established cell culture will be characterized for physiological and morphological features.
  • Develop methods and/or identify factors needed to establish and maintain midgut-derived cell lines from lepidopterans or coleopterans that exhibit physiological relevance.

Proposals should include:

  • A high-level timeline to proof of concept, ideally within a 12-month period
  • Expertise, equipment and facilities you have and/or need to execute the proposal
  • A breakdown of the estimated project cost (up to $50,000 including a maximum of 10% indirect costs)

Who Should Apply

  • Any creative and innovative scientist with ideas that can be adapted to solve this challenge
  • Scientists with expertise in insect cell culture or cell proliferation and differentiation
  • Individuals with expertise and interest in applying innovative methods to develop insect cell culture systems (e.g., entomologists, biomedical researchers, biologists, etc.)
  • Institutions, organizations, entrepreneurs, or individuals with related experience and interest

Program Details

For submissions received by September 15, 2019:

  • We will evaluate your submission and notify you of its status by November 15, 2019.
  • An Open Innovation representative will contact selected applicants to provide further details on the grant process.

Intellectual property ownership and publication rights will remain with the selected grant applicants.

How Can We Help

  • Funding (up to $50,000 including a maximum of 10% indirect costs)
  • Opportunity for an extended collaboration
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