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Keywords:

  • biological control;
  • integrated pest management;
  • Capnodis spp;
  • cry genes;
  • Bacillus thuringiensis toxins;
  • rootstock

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Conventional methods often fail to control the flatheaded borers Capnodis spp., major pests of stone fruit trees; the larvae are protected from insecticides and predation because they feed deep in the roots. A potential solution is transgenic trees producing in their roots toxic compounds such as Cry proteins of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

RESULTS

Toxicities against Capnodis larvae were demonstrated by exploiting a recently designed artificial larval diet and an available collection of field isolated Bt. An isolate of Bt tenebrionis (Btt) from commercial bioinsecticide (Novodor) displayed LC50 and LC95 values of 3.2 and 164 mg g−1, respectively, against neonates of Capnodis tenebrionis, whereas values of the most toxic field isolate K-7 were 1.9 and 25.6 mg g−1 respectively. Weights of surviving larvae after 1 month on diets containing low concentrations of K-7 (0.1–1.0 mg g−1) were lower than on Btt or untreated larvae. K-7 was also toxic against larvae of C. cariosa and C. miliaris and found to harbour genes encoding Cry9Ea-like and Cry23Aa/Cry37Aa binary toxins.

CONCLUSION

Larvae of Capnodis spp. are susceptible to Bt Cry toxins. Expressing cry genes active against these pests thus seems a feasible solution towards production of transgenic rootstock trees resilient to the pest. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry