Insect Midgut Epithelial Cell Culture Systems

seeking to combine the ease of use and reproducibility of cell lines with the preserved physiological status of primary cell culture

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Corteva Agriscience is interested in working with public or private sector scientists to develop insect midgut epithelial cell culture systems, which maintain their physiological relevance over time.

Application Deadline
April 8th, 2022
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Cell cultures are used in many fields of biological research to look at cellular responses to external inputs. They can serve as a predictor of responses by the whole organisms from which they were derived. In the field of entomology, several types of cell-based assays have been used successfully to characterise cellular responses (1-2).

In many of the described cases, the cell-based assays utilized recombinant techniques within cell lines to recreate the physiological target of an input. Alternatively, cell lines derived from non-midgut tissue that happened to be naturally susceptible to an insecticidal protein were used.

Primary cell cultures tend to closely resemble the morphology and physiological state of the cells they were isolated from (3). Therefore, the response of primary insect cell cultures may better reflect that of the intact insect than reconstituted cell lines without requiring prior knowledge of a response mechanism. However, it is challenging to isolate and culture midgut epithelial cells continuously and to preserve their differentiation capability.


1. Soberón, M., Portugal, L., Garcia-Gómez, B.I., Sanchez, J., Onofre, J., Gomez, I., Pacheco, S., Bravo, A., 2018. Cell lines as models for the study of Cry toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis. Insect biochemistry and molecular biology 93:66-78.

2. Smagghe, G., Goodman, C.L. and Stanley, D., 2009. Insect cell culture and applications to research and pest management. In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology-Animal 45:93-105.

3. Mandrioli, M., Monti, M., and Tedeschi, R., 2015. A practical guide to insect cell cultures: establishment and maintenance of primary cell cultures. Halteres 6:132-141.


Corteva Agriscience is interested in collaborating with the broader research community to develop insect midgut epithelial cell culture systems, which maintain their physiological relevance over time.

Corteva Agriscience is seeking non-confidential proposals on any of the following topics that describe a research plan to:

  • Develop methods for establishment, long-term maintenance and cryopreservation of midgut epithelial cell cultures from lepidopterans or coleopterans that retain midgut epithelial cell characteristics. Proposals should include an explanation of how the established cell culture will be characterised for physiological and morphological features.
  • Develop methods and/or identify factors needed to establish and maintain midgut-derived cell lines from lepidopterans or coleopterans that exhibit physiological relevance.

Proposals based on model systems or other insect orders that can be translated to lepidopterans or coleopterans may be considered.

What's in it for you?

For selected proposals Corteva Agriscience scientists will engage with you to develop an effective approach to establish a proof of concept. Funding to perform the proposed research and, if successful, opportunities for extended collaboration and additional funding may be available.

An Open Innovation representative will contact selected finalists to arrange a virtual discussion with Corteva scientists under confidentiality and to provide additional details on the selection process.

This is a global challenge, and Corteva Agriscience is open to collaborating with scientists in the public or private sectors. In particular, expertise in insect cell culture or cell proliferation and differentiation or expertise/interest in applying innovative methods to develop insect cell culture systems (e.g., entomologists, biomedical researchers, biologists, etc.) is desirable.

If you have or are developing solutions, or if you have expertise in the above, please click "Apply" to submit your solution/expertise to the Network.