Rothamsted Research

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Demolition of the laboratory where synthetic pyrethroids were invented

This week, the bulldozers moved in to demolish the Ogg building, where synthetic pyrethroid insecticides were first discovered in the late sixties.

Ogg Building Demolition

This week, the bulldozers moved in to demolish the Ogg building at Rothamsted Research (1), where synthetic pyrethroid insecticides were first discovered in the late sixties. Thirty five years later, this major group of insecticides is still the most important for controlling aphids and other sucking insect pests that damage crops and act as disease vectors. The synthetic pyrethroids account for 17% of global insecticide sales (2).

The first synthetic pyrethroid, bioresmethrin, was synthesised by Michael Elliott at Rothamsted in 1967 and his group went on to discover a range of other pyrethroids, including permethrin, deltamethrin and cypermethrin in the 1970's. Despite the subsequent discovery of 30 new pyrethroids, these early compounds still take a substantial share of the pyrethroid market (3). In the 1980's the Ogg laboratory was also home to Roman Sawicki's ground-breaking work on understanding the development of resistance to insecticides by certain pest species. The laboratory has been demolished as part of a major redevelopment programme at Rothamsted. Michael Elliott's successor, Professor John Pickett FRS leads the Biological Chemistry Department, which occupies part of the new, purpose-built Centenary Building. The Department's work now focuses on novel approaches to pest control using behaviour-modifying chemicals and on understanding insect resistance to pesticides. Pictures of the demolition and the new laboratory available to the press on request.


Notes to Editors

1) Rothamsted Research is the largest agricultural research institute in the country and is sponsored by the BBSRC:
2) From "Pyrethroids," B. Khambay and P. Jewess 2005 (in press).
3) In 2002, deltamethrin had the highest global sales of any pyrethroid, at 208 million US dollars (Cropnosis ltd).

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About Rothamsted Research

We are the longest running agricultural research station in the world, providing cutting-edge science and innovation for over 170 years. Our mission is to deliver the knowledge and new practices to increase crop productivity and quality and to develop environmentally sustainable solutions for food and energy production.

Our strength lies in the integrated, multidisciplinary approach to research in plant, insect and soil science.

Rothamsted Research is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). In 2013-2014 Rothamsted Researched received a total of £32.9M from the BBSRC.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, BBSRC invested over £509M in world-class bioscience in 2014-15. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

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