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Crop Biotech Update

Insect-specific MicroRNA, an Alternative to Bt-Toxin Technology in Engineering Insect Resistance

May 20, 2015

The success of Bt transgenics in controlling crop pests has been toned down by emergence of resistance in targeted insect larvae. These threats have prompted the search for other approaches that are insect specific.

Raj K. Bhatnagar of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in India have resorted to small RNA-based technology to search for an insect-specific miRNA that interferes with the insect molting process resulting in the death of the larvae.

They designed a vector that produces artificial microRNA, amiR-24, which targets the chitinase gene of Helicoverpa armigera and expressed it in tobacco. Analysis revealed the high expression of amiR-24 in transgenic tobacco plants. Larvae that fed on the transgenic tobacco ceased to molt and eventually died.

Read the full article on Transgenic Research.