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Smarter toxins help crops fight resistant pests
Date:10/9/2011

in an ambitious experiment. We sent them native and modified toxins without telling them which was which and asked them to test both types of toxins against the resistant strains they have in their labs, Tabashnik said.

It turned out things are more complicated than the hypothesis predicted. The modified toxins did not always work on insects with cadherin mutations, and they worked surprisingly well against some insects whose resistance was not caused by a cadherin mutation.

We still dont know why the modified toxins were so effective against some resistant strains and not others Tabashnik said. The take-home message is we need to look at this on a case-by-case basis.

Tabashnik pointed out that based on the lab results, we think the modified Bt toxins could be useful, but we wont know until they're tested in the field. He said the results are promising enough that Pioneer, a major agriculture and biotechnology company, made a significant investment to pursue the technology.

Through the UAs Office of Technology Transfer, the UA's stake in the technology has been licensed to UNAM, which in turn selected Pioneer as their commercial partner in exploring its potential for commercialization.

At the very least, we've learned more about the pests and their interactions with Bt toxins, Tabashnik said. In a best-case scenario, this could help growers sustain environmentally friendly pest control.


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Contact: Daniel Stolte
stolte@email.arizona.edu
520-626-4402
University of Arizona
Source:Eurekalert  

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