NPV Technology

Using the power of nature to control insect pests

Why baculoviruses and how do they work?

Nucleopolyhedroviruses (NPVs) are naturally occurring, highly effective bioinsecticides against a number of important insect pests. NPV-based insecticides promise a potent and environmentally friendly alternative to chemical insecticides. These bioinsecticides are extremely safe and do not harm people, wildlife, or beneficial insects.

The active constituent of NPVs is Occlusion Bodies (OBs). OBs are virus particles that are protected inside a protein matrix. When caterpillars feed on plants treated with OBs (left figure) for that specific insect species they become infected with the virus. Alkaline conditions in the insect’s digestive tract cause the OB protein matrix to dissolve, releasing virus particles that penetrate the cells lining the midgut. Once inside the caterpillar the virus is able to multiply and invade almost every cell in the insect. Subsequently the virus causes the cells of the insect to rupture, killing the caterpillar and releasing an NPV-loaded liquid.

This NPV liquid can be spread around the crop by other insects and/or during rainfall or overhead irrigation. Healthy caterpillars that feed on this liquid will become infected and die. In this manner, a crop can become “inoculated” with NPV to help provide protection against subsequent pest infestation.
NPV Occlusion Diagram Step one
NPV Occlusion Right Side Step 3

Nucleopolyhedrovirus Lifecycle in Lepidoptera

  • Larva ingests virus occlusion bodies (OBs)
  • OB dissolves in midgut releasing virus particles
  • Virus enters nucleus of midgut cells, replicates and forms non-occulated (budded) virus
  • Budded virus invades all the larva’s tissue via the hemolymph
  • OBs form in nucleus
  • Formation of virus OBs cause cells to rupture
  • Upon death, the larva melts and releases an OB-laden liquid as the source of secondary infection
NPVs in Integrated Pest Management
NPVs can provide effective control of caterpillars with no impact on beneficial species in the crop. This means that natural predators and parasites in the crop are able to provide ongoing suppression of pests after NPV application. The use of less selective insecticides, while providing good initial knockdown control of caterpillars, can cause subsequent flaring of pests due to the removal of their natural enemies. This is a particularly important consideration in the first half of the season and in crops prone to pests normally kept in check by predation and parasitism.

NPVs in Resistance Management
Some caterpillar species have developed resistance to a wide range of chemical insecticides and to genetically-modified (GM) crops. NPVs are able to control caterpillar populations that have developed resistance to synthetic chemistry and GM crops. They are also a valuable rotational product and mixing partner in resistance management. Current scientific evidence shows that the chance of resistance development to NPVs is extremely low. This means that NPVs can be used throughout the season; early for use in integrated pest management and later as a resistance break or mixing partner with synthetic insecticides.

NPVs in Residue Management
NPVs are non-toxic and non-hazardous which means that farmers can re-enter their fields within a few hours of spraying. Moreover, NPVs degrade in the natural ecological environment thus leaving no residues on crops enabling farmers to manage pests right up until harvest without having to worry about pre-harvest internals or challenges of residues on crops.
Research and Development
AgBiTech has a strong research program that is continually developing biological insect control solutions for growers. This includes creating new products as well as increasing the efficiency of existing products and of our manufacturing system. NPVs have been proven to control pests in a wide range of situations, and we think they can be applied throughout the world against new targets, and we're working to achieving that.

We are leveraging our technical expertise and success to develop new products in partnership with researchers from research groups in Australia, the United States and Brazil. Each new product goes through stringent regulatory approval processes and field trials before its commercial release.

AgBiTech’s laboratories are located in Toowoomba Australia, Dallas Fort Worth USA and Goiânia, state of Goiás, in Brazil. These well-equipped laboratories are staffed by over 12 scientists, many of them PhDs, who bring our products to life, and are supported by a team of over 10 field development experts based at strategic locations around the world to continue in-field assessments of the products we develop, a summary of which is shown below:
Typical Host Crops
Targeted Pests
Active Virus
Helicorverpa zea
Corn earworm (CEW), Cotton Bollworm, Headworm, Soybean Podworm, Tomato Budworm
Spodoptera frugiperda
Fall Armyworm (FAW)
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Helicoverpa zea – Corn earworm
Heliothis virescens – Tobacco Budworm
Chrysodeixis includens – Soybean Looper (SBL)
Plutella xylostella – Diamondback Moth (DBM)
Helicorverpa zea
Corn earworm (CEW), Cotton Bollworm,
Headworm, Soybean Podworm,
Tomato Budworm
Sorghum, Soybean, Sweet Corn, Field Corn, Industrial Hemp, Lettuce, Peanuts, Tomato Fruits
Sorghum, Soybean, Sweet Corn, Field Corn, Industrial Hemp, Lettuce, Peanuts, Tomato Fruits
Sweet Corn, Field Corn, Sorghum, Wheat, Turf/Pastures
Soybean, Cabbage
Brassica Crops (Broccoli, Brussels sprout, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Collards, Kale, Mustard, Turnip, and Watercress)
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Spring 2023
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Fall 2023
Active Virus

Production – How are NPVs produced?

The production of NPVs take place inside the caterpillar pest. This process involves the mass rearing of huge numbers of caterpillars in a climate-controlled environment, and infecting them with a small amount of NPV. AgBiTech’s manufacturing facility in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, has proprietary technologies that enable the production, maintenance, and infection of millions of caterpillars every day. The amplified OBs are subsequently harvested from the dead caterpillars through a process of washing and centrifugation, and eventually formulated into a concentrated virus product. AgBiTech maintains formulation and packaging capabilities in the USA, Australia, and Brazil for its NPV products and the adjuvants Optimol and Magnet/Chamariz.
Quality control of AgBiTech’s NPV products

Each product that we produce undergoes rigorous quality checks and all of our products leave the factory with a Certificate of Analysis to give our customers peace of mind.

OB Counts
The OB count defines the level of active viral particles in the product. AgBiTech undertakes OB counts on every batch of product to ensure product quality and consistency.

Potency Bioassays
AgBiTech compares every batch of product to a specific reference virus sample of known virulence to ensure product quality and consistency.

Containment Levels
The production of NPV is a biological process involving the mass rearing and infection of huge numbers of caterpillars. Thus, this process has the potential to introduce microbial contaminants into the product.  AgBiTech’s manufacturing process is designed to minimize microbial contamination. In addition, every batch of product undergoes independent laboratory testing to ensure that the final product meets food standards with respect to microbial contamination.

Storage and Transport
NPV is stable for years when stored at temperatures of 4°C or lower.  Extended periods of time at higher temperatures can result in virus degradation and loss of product potency. To ensure that NPV is readily available and reaches growers in perfect condition AgBiTech has established a large cold infrastructure and delivery network.