Canisius Professor Part of Research Team That Receives $500,000 Grant

February 23, 2016


          BUFFALO, NY – Robert Grebenok, PhD, professor of biology at Canisius College, is part of an interdisciplinary research team who are the recipients of a three-year, $500,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Grebenok’s team will use the grant to investigate the biochemical, physiological, genetic and ecological inter-play between herbivorous insects and agriculturally important crop plants.

           Through its research, the team hopes to find ways to assist plants in maintaining their health, while eliminating pesticide use. The interdisciplinary research teams focus is to identify the gut proteins that herbivorous insects use to take up particular nutritional components from their food and find ways to assist the plant in stopping the function of these proteins. The group is interested in forcing herbivorous insects to choose weeds as food by causing important crop plants to produce more of their natural defenses and as a result be of little dietary use to insect herbivores. “We are not interested in killing herbivorous insects because as soon as you cause insects to die, you reduce the vitality of the ecosystem and create evolutionary pressure against your process,” adds Grebenok.  

          A higher plant biochemist and physiologist at Canisius College, Grebenok studies how higher plants protect themselves against insects. His research teams have been conducting research in the area of plant, insect and ecosystem interactions for the past 20 years and have authored five grants, which have generated in excess of $1.5 million dollars in government support.

        Canisius College is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation and the premier private university in Western New York.