Technological advances to enhance agricultural pest management

Text - scientific article/review article


Biotechnology offers new solutions to existing and future pest problems in agriculture including, for the first time, possible tools to use against insect transmitted pathogens causing plant diseases. Here, we describe the strategy first described as Autocidal Biological Control applied for the development of conditional lethal pink bollworm strains. When these strains are mass-reared, the lethal gene expression is suppressed by a tetracycline repressor element, which is activated by the presence of chlorotetracycline, a normal component of the mass-rearing diet. Once removed from the tetracycline diet, the lethal genes are passed on to offspring when ordinary lab-reared pink bollworms mate with special lethal strains. Lethality is dominant (one copy sufficient for lethality), expressed in the egg stage and affects all eggs (100% lethal expression). The initial investment by the California Cotton Pest Control Board is an outstanding example of research partnerships between agriculture industry, the USDA and land grant universities.


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  • Xylella fastidiosa