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In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim. 2012 May;48(5):293-300. doi: 10.1007/s11626-012-9496-x. Epub 2012 May 12.

Development of cell lines from the cactophagous insect: Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) and their susceptibility to three baculoviruses.

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Biological Control of Insects Research Laboratory, USDA-ARS, Columbia, MO 65203-3535, USA.


The unintentional introduction of the cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum, a successful biological control agent formerly employed in the control of invasive prickly pear cactus species (Opuntia spp.) in Australia, Hawaii, South Africa, and various Caribbean islands, has posed great concern as to the possible threat to native, endangered species of cactus in the southeastern USA as well as with the potential to cause a major infestation of commercial and agricultural cactus crops in Mexico. A number of control measures have been investigated with varying degrees of success including, field exploration for cactus moth-specific parasitoids, insecticides, fungal, bacterial, and nematode agents. Current tactics used by the USA-Mexico binational program to eradicate cactus moth from Mexico and mitigate its westward movement in the USA include host plant removal, the manual removal and destruction of egg sticks and infected cacti stems, and the Sterile Insect Technique. One other approach not taken until now is the development of a cactus moth cell line as a tool to facilitate the investigation of baculoviruses as an alternative biocontrol method for the cactus moth. Consequently, we established C. cactorum cell lines derived from adult ovarian tissue designated as BCIRL-Cc-AM and BCIRL-Cc-JG. The mean cell population doubling time was 204.3 and 112 h for BCIRL-Cc-AM and BCIRL-Cc-JG, respectively, with weekly medium change, while the doubling time was 176.6 and 192.6 h for BCIRL-Cc-AM and BCIRL-Cc-JG, respectively, with a daily change of medium. In addition, the daily versus weekly change in medium was reflected in the percentage viability with both cell lines showing higher levels with a daily medium change. Of the three baculoviruses tested, only the recombinant AcMNPV-hsp70Red and GmMNPV at a multiplicity of infection (MOI) of 1.0 were able to demonstrate significant production of extracellular virus (ECV) in each of the cell lines, whereas both cell lines were refractive to an HzSNPV challenge at an MOI of 10. In this study, we have demonstrated both the successful development of a C. cactorum cell line and its ability to support a complete baculovirus infection. The potential is also there to pursue further investigations to determine the susceptibility of the cactus moth cell line to other viruses. Additionally, the availability of a cactus moth cell line will facilitate the analysis of viruses prior to using the more expensive bioassay test. Finally, it is hoped with the knowledge presented here that baculoviruses may also be considered as an alternative biocontrol method for the cactus moth.

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