News of the WeekENTOMOLOGY

First Light on Genetic Roots of Bt Resistance

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Science  03 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5531, pp. 778
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5531.778

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Crops that are genetically engineered to make insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) require less chemical pesticides. But insects can adapt to these natural toxins, just as they do to synthetic chemical pesticides, raising worries that extensive use of the modified crops will lead to widespread resistance that could render both the crops and the Bt sprays useless. Now, in work reported on pages 857 and 860, scientists have identified the first resistance genes for Bt, taking a big step toward understanding how Bt resistance arises--a key to predicting the occurrence of such resistance.