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Meridian Institute

Scientists Discover Genetic Basis of Pest Resistance to Biotech Cotton

Summary posted by Meridian on 5/20/2014

Source: University of Arizona (19 May 2014)

Author(s): Daniel Stolte

An international team of scientists led by the University of Arizona, United States, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has discovered how the global caterpillar pest called pink bollworm overcomes biotech cotton. The pink bollworm is one of the most detrimental pests to cotton production worldwide. It was first detected in the U.S. in 1917. In 1996, with the introduction of Bt cotton, a genetically engineered crop that contains a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringensis that endows plants with a protein that kills some, but not all, insects, farmers had a weapon in fighting the caterpillar. These benefits, however, are cut short when pests evolve resistance. Understanding how the pink bollworm, at a molecular level, develops resistance could have major impacts for managing pest resistance to Bt crops. "Bt crops have had major benefits for society," said Jeffrey Fabrick, the lead author of the study and a research entomologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service. "By understanding how insects adapt to Bt crops we can devise better strategies to delay the evolution of resistance and extend these benefits." The team’s findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The original article may still be available at http://uanews.org/story/scientists-discover-genetic-basis-of-pest-resistance-to-biotech-cotton

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