Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Evaluate Insect Resistant Plants Expressing Spider Venom Toxin (Hvt)

September 3, 2014

Spiders produce peptide ω-Hexatoxin-Hv1a (Hvt), a venom toxin with proven insecticidal properties against arthropods belonging to orders Lepidoptera, Diptera, and Orthroptera. The gene coding for Hvt has been transferred into cotton and tobacco to develop plants with resistance to lepidopteran pests. Researchers from National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Pakistan and partners assessed the expression of the ω-HXTX-Hv1a gene in transgenic plants, and the toxicity of plant-expressed and purified Hvt on target lepidopteran insects and on several non-target species. Insect resistant cotton (Bollgard II) plants were included in the study as comparators.

Results showed that larval mortality was 100% on Hvt-transgenic tobacco plants but not on Hvt-transgenic cotton which can be due to significantly lower Hvt expression level in the transgenic cotton.  Studies on non-target organisms were conducted with larvae of the predators common green lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea) and seven-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata), adults of the aphid parasitoid (Aphidius colemani), and adult workers of the honey bee (Apis mellifera). Even at greater concentrations (40 μg/ml) Hvt did not adversely affect the four non-target species. Purified Cry2Ab2 from Bollgard II plants at 10 μg/ml also did not adversely affect any of the non-target species.

Based on the results, Hvt might be useful for developing insecticidal plant varieties to control lepidopteran pests.

Read the abstract at;jsessionid=79FBBA74EE54EF4B91645971516962CE.f02t01