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In the 1960s, the prediction that synthetic juvenile hormones (JHs) and their analogs would form the basis of a new generation of insecticides with enhanced target specificity greatly stimulated research on this hormone. Although JH-based insecticides were found to be effective against certain groups of insect pests, their shortcomings soon became apparent; however, current JH research provides new opportunities and ideas for the development of innovative integrated pest management (IPM) tools and strategies aimed at disrupting JH functions. Interfering with JH endocrinology requires that we either artificially increase JH titers at stages of development when titers are normally low or artificially reduce JH titers at stages of development when titers are normally high. Our discussion is organized around these two conceptual approaches and covers such areas as (i) the isolation and cloning of JH receptors; (ii) the characterization of polydnavirus and entomopoxvirus gene products responsible for the inhibition of host metamorphosis; (iii) the isolation and molecular cloning of allatostatins and the design of allatostatic pseudopeptides; (iv) the characterization of JH biosynthetic enzymes specific to the Lepidoptera; (v) the characterization of regulatory material originating from parasitic wasps of the genus Chelonus Panzer (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), which induce precocious metamorphosis in their hosts; (vi) a tree resistance mechanism involving anti-JH effects resulting in the failure of female insects to produce and lay eggs; and (vii) the cloning of JH esterase and epoxide hydrolase cDNAs and the production of recombinant baculoviruses that overexpress these JH-degradative enzymes.
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