Location: Subtropical Plant Pathology Research
Project Number: 6618-22000-039-06
Start Date: Aug 01, 2010
End Date: Sep 30, 2014
Previous work from our laboratory has demonstrated that a protein ligand on the surface of Tomato spotted wilt virus binds to a receptor in the gut of thrips to facilitate cell entry and replication. Since we know that the specificity of Bt toxin (that is why they only kill a small subset of insects) depends on targeting Bt to an insect gut receptor by means of a specific ligand as well, we are using standard molecular techniques to re-engineer several versions of Bt by replacing their native ligand with that from the virus. The rationale being that the fusion protein thus created will bind to thrips guts (and only thrips guts because the virus is not transmitted by any other insect) and create a specific (no harm to beneficial insects) benign (years of use of Bt toxins have shown them to be safe) and effective pesticide.