Dr. Larry Murdock, a professor of insect physiology from the Purdue Entomology Department, spoke to the Biochemistry Club on October 29th about cowpea grain and cowpea weevils. Cowpea is a legume crop that is essential to African agriculture, but the storage methods with which it was being kept post-harvest (mud granaries) were conducive to infestations by cowpea weevils, which resulted in substantial economic losses for farmers. Dr. Murdock has made 45 trips to Africa in his lifetime, and has done extensive research on the cowpea weevil and methods for improved grain storage. Through Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSPs), triple plastic bagging storage methods were developed and shown to kill the weevils and keep the grain for long-term storage. Today, the net value of this technology is $186 million, whereas the original investment was only around $3 million. This method is believed to work because the oxygen source is cut off when the insects are enclosed within the bags, and without oxygen, the weevils are unable to make metabolic water, and thus dry up.

Entomology Professor Larry Murdock speaks to members of the Biochemistry Club

Purdue University | Purdue Biochemistry