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K-State Today

February 7, 2023

Brenda Oppert to give Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Seminar

Submitted by Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

Brenda Oppert, research molecular biologist in the Center for Grain and Animal Health at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, will be the next featured speaker for the Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Seminar. She will present "Leveraging Studies in Stored Product Insects to Solve Problems in Agriculture" at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, in 120 Ackert Hall.

Since graduating from K-State biochemistry in 1991, Oppert has worked at the Agricultural Research Service lab in Manhattan in the Stored Product Insect and Engineering Research Unit. Her research has spanned insect digestive proteases, insecticide resistance and insect functional genomics. 

Oppert will discuss the highlights of this diverse research, including insect proteases in the development of control products and related applications as well as a resistance mechanism to Bacillus thuringiensis toxins. Since 2007, she has sequenced insect reference genomes for downstream applications, such as gene expression profiling, genotyping, insecticide resistance and microbiome research.

Oppert is involved in expanding genetic resources for insects as a protein supplement for animal feed as a member of the ARS Grand Challenges Synergies group developing insects for food waste and sustainable fish and livestock production. She also is a member of an ARSx team that is incorporating field-collected insects into animal feed. In addition to sequencing cricket and mealworm genomes, they have developed transcriptome resources for annotation and value-added research, and they use sequencing to evaluate the safety of insect feed. Their research on insects as food and feed has the potential for significant impact in agriculture to meet the needs of feeding future world populations and reduce food insecurity.

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