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Abstract

The Cry family of Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal and nematicidal proteins constitutes a valuable source of environmentally benign compounds for the control of insect pests and disease agents. An understanding of Cry toxin resistance at a molecular level will be critical to the long-term utility of this technology; it may also shed light on basic mechanisms used by other bacterial toxins that target specific organisms or cell types. Selection and cross-resistance studies have confirmed that genetic adaptation can elicit varying patterns of Cry toxin resistance, which has been associated with deficient protoxin activation by host proteases, and defective Cry toxin-binding cell surface molecules, such as cadherins, aminopeptidases and glycolipids. Recent work also suggests Cry toxin resistance may be induced in invertebrates as an active immune response. The use of model invertebrates, such as Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster, as well as advances in insect genomics, are likely to accelerate efforts to clone Cry toxin resistance genes and come to a detailed and broad understanding of Cry toxin resistance. BioEssays 27:614–624, 2005. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.