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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2003 Jan;26(5):419-32.

PCR-based identification of Bacillus thuringiensis pesticidal crystal genes.

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  • 1Laboratoire des Bactéries et Champignons Entomopathogènes, Institut Pasteur, 25 rue du Dr. Roux, 75724, Paris Cedex 15, France.


The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a molecular tool widely used to characterize the insecticidal bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. This technique can be used to amplify specific DNA fragments and thus to determine the presence or absence of a target gene. The identification of B. thuringiensis toxin genes by PCR can partially predict the insecticidal activity of a given strain. PCR has proven to be a rapid and reliable method and it has largely substituted bioassays in preliminary classification of B. thuringiensis collections. In this work, we compare the largest B. thuringiensis PCR-based screenings, and we review the natural occurrence of cry genes among native strains. We also discuss the use of PCR for the identification of novel cry genes, as well as the potential of novel technologies for the characterization of B. thuringiensis strains.

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