Insecticidal Toxins from the Bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens

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Science  26 Jun 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5372, pp. 2129-2132
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5372.2129

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Transgenic plants expressing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins are currently being deployed for insect control. In response to concerns about Bt resistance, we investigated a toxin secreted by a different bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens, which lives in the gut of entomophagous nematodes. In insects infected by the nematode, the bacteria are released into the insect hemocoel; the insect dies and the nematodes and bacteria replicate in the cadaver. The toxin consists of a series of four native complexes encoded by toxin complex loci tca, tcb, tcc, and tcd. Both tca and tcd encode complexes with high oral toxicity to Manduca sexta and therefore they represent potential alternatives to Bt for transgenic deployment.

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