Posted on Thursday, March 3, 2022
Two Westminster College biology seniors sifted through the agricultural community to find its biggest store-grained pest was becoming resistant to traditional pesticides. Determined to find a natural solution to this issue, each student took a different approach—studying the rate of development versus mortality rate.
Emily Gagliordi and Hannah Meeks of New Castle, Pa. both researched Tenebrio molitor, commonly known as mealworms, exposing them to different amounts of exposure to Cannabidiol Oil, also known as CBD oil. CBD is a secondary metabolite of the Cannabis sativa plant that may be effective as a natural pesticide.
Under the guidance of Dr. Ann Throckmorton, professor biology, a grant from the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research and funds from the Department of Biology, Gagliordi and Meeks were able to carry out their research.
“The Drinko Center and biology department grants allowed us to purchase the CBD isolate powder, guaranteeing our research was done with a pure substance,” said Gagliordi and Meeks.
Gagliordi looked into the survivorship of mealworms when given increasing concentrations of CBD. Over a five-week period of exposure, she was able to determine that CBD significantly decreased mealworm survival at high concentrations making it a potential, natural pesticide against mealworms.
In her research, Meeks used three different concentrations of CBD to test which concentration increased the length of time taken to complete the stages of metamorphosis. With concentrations of 15 mg/ml, 45 mg/ml and 90 mg/ml, Meeks found that the concentration of 45 mg/ml had the fewest number of days between exoskeleton shedding, indicating that CBD can be an effective pesticide at that specific concentration.
Post-graduation in the spring, Gagliordi hopes to find a lab-based job before heading to graduate school.
Meeks is also planning to attend graduate school in the fall.
For more information on the biology department, click here.
For more information on the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research, contact Karen Resendes at firstname.lastname@example.org.