• Bacillus thuringiensis;
  • insecticidal protein;
  • biopesticide;
  • Bt use;
  • molecular mechanism


The insecticidal toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) represent a class of biopesticides that are attractive alternatives to broad-spectrum “hard” chemistries. The U.S. Food Quality Protection Act and the European Economic Council directives aimed at reducing the use of carbamate and organophosphate insecticides were expected to increase the use of narrowly targeted, “soft” compounds like Bt. Here we summarize the unique mode of action of Bt, which contributes to pest selectivity. We also review the patterns of Bt use in general agriculture and in specific niche markets. Despite continued predictions of dramatic growth for biopesticides due to US Food Quality Protection Act—induced cancellations of older insecticides, Bt use has remained relatively constant, even in niche markets where Bt has traditionally been relatively high. Arch. Insect Biochem. Physiol. 54:200–211, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.