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Durham University

Department of Biosciences

Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor John A. Gatehouse

Mehlo, L, Gahakwa, D, Nghia, PT, Loc, NT, Capell, T, Gatehouse, JA, Gatehouse, AMR & Christou, P (2005). An alternative strategy for sustainable pest resistance in genetically enhanced crops. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America 102(22): 7812-7816.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) crystal protein genes encode insecticidal δ-endotoxins that are widely used for the development of insect-resistant crops. In this article, we describe an alternative transgenic strategy that has the potential to generate broader and more sustainable levels of resistance against insect pests. Our strategy involves engineering plants with a fusion protein combining the δ-endotoxin Cry1Ac with the galactose-binding domain of the nontoxic ricin B-chain (RB). This fusion, designated BtRB, provides the toxin with additional, binding domains, thus increasing the potential number of interactions at the molecular level in target insects. Transgenic rice and maize plants engineered to express the fusion protein were significantly more toxic in insect bioassays than those containing the Bt gene alone. They were also resistant to a wider range of insects, including important pests that are not normally susceptible to Bt toxins. The potential impact of fusion genes such as BtRB in terms of crop improvement, resistance sustainability, and biosafety is discussed.