Submitted to: OECD Workshop - Practical and Innovative Measures for the Control of Agricu
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 17, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Entomopathogenic nematodes have been used for almost 70 years without any incident that would question their safety. New natural strains and species of both entomopathogenic genera, Heterorhabditis and Steinernema, are continually being discovered, offering new traits for use in genetic engineering. Transformation of one of these nematodes has recently been accomplished. This modification was aided by the close relationship of these nematodes to the extensively studied free living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the availability of several useful promotors. The development of microprobes, and non-lethal markers to identify the transformed nematodes was crucial to the project. A strain of H. Bacteriophora with increased thermotolerance form the overexpreession of a heat shock protein was released in turfgrass plots in southern New Jersey. This was the first field release of a genetically modified multicellular organism, and places nematodes along with the previously released baculoviruses and Bacillus thuringiensis as engineered biological control agents released into the environment. The release of H. bacteriophora demonstrates there are no substantial methodological or regulatory barriers the United States to the production and release of a transgenic nematode. However, the full use of either natural or transgenic entomopathogenic nematodes in sustainable agriculture systems will require further investigations and evaluations on how they can successfully be integrated into plant management systems.