Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 28, Number 1, January-March 2008
Page(s) 11 - 20
Published online 29 February 2008
Agron. Sustain. Dev. 28 (2008) 11-20
DOI: 10.1051/agro:2007054

Bacillus thuringiensis: applications in agriculture and insect resistance management. A review

Vincent Sanchis1 and Denis Bourguet2

1  Unité de Génétique Microbienne et Environnement, INRA La Minière, 78285 Guyancourt Cedex, France
2  Centre de Biologie et de Gestion des Populations, UMR INRA-IRD-Montpellier SupAgro-CIRAD, Campus International de Baillarguet, 34988 Montferrier sur Lez, France

(Accepted 22 November 2007; published online 29 February 2008)

Abstract - Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a sporulating, Gram-positive facultative-aerobic soil bacterium. Its principal characteristic is the synthesis, during sporulation, of a crystalline inclusion containing proteins known as $\delta$-endotoxins or Cry proteins. These proteins have insecticidal properties. The considerable diversity of these toxins, their efficacy and their relatively cheap production have made Bt the most widely used biopesticide in the world. It is used in the fight against many agricultural crop pests - mostly lepidopteran and coleopteran larvae - notably in the creation of new plant varieties expressing Bt cry genes. For human health, Bt can be used for the effective control of populations of several dipteran disease vectors. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the use of Bt for crop protection and to deal with the problem of the emergence of insects resistant to this biopesticide. We will begin by presenting various aspects of the biology of this entomopathogenic micro-organism, focusing on the diversity and mode of action of the insecticidal toxins it produces. We will then present several examples of utilization of commercially available Bt products used as sprays or as transgenic crops. Finally, we will describe the principal strategy for the use of Bt transgenic plants, developed so as to prevent or delay the emergence of resistance in target insect populations.

Key words: Bacillus thuringiensis / biopesticide / $\delta$-endotoxin / transgenic plants / resistance management / Cry protein

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2007