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Pest Manag Sci. 2001 Oct;57(10):981-7.

Recombinant baculoviruses for insect control.

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Department of Entomology and Cancer Research Center, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Baculoviruses are double-stranded DNA viruses which are highly selective for several insect groups. They are valuable natural control agents, but their utility in many agricultural applications has been limited by their slow speed of kill and narrow host specificity. Baculoviruses have been genetically modified to express foreign genes under powerful promoters in order to accelerate their speed of kill. In our and other laboratories, the expression of genes coding for insect juvenile hormone esterases and various peptide neurotoxins has resulted in recombinant baculoviruses with promise as biological insecticides. These viruses are efficacious in the laboratory, greenhouse and field and dramatically reduce damage caused by insect feeding. The recombinant viruses synergize and are synergized by classical pesticides such as pyrethroids. Since they are highly selective for pest insects, they can be used without disrupting biological control. Because the recombinant virus produces fewer progeny in infected larvae than the wild-type virus, they are rapidly out-competed in the ecosystem. The viruses can be used effectively with crops expressing endotoxins of Bacillus thuringiensis. They can be produced industrially but also by village industries, indicating that they have the potential to deliver sustainable pest control in developing countries. It remains to be seen, however, whether the current generation of recombinant baculoviruses will be competitive with the new generation of synthetic chemical pesticides. Current research clearly indicates, though, that the use of biological vectors of genes for insect control will find a place in agriculture. Baculoviruses will also prove valuable in testing the potential utility of proteins and peptides for insect control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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