Cotton: Boll Weevil Still a Problem? New Bt Protein Targets and Kills – DTN

In 1990s: Pheromone insect trap covered with boll weevils near Texas cotton field. © Debra L Ferguson

Brazilian scientists have successfully inserted a Bt protein into cotton plants to target and kill the cotton boll weevil (CBW). The boll weevil was a major cotton pest in the U.S. in the 20th century before the successful Boll Weevil Eradication Program launched in the late 1970s. However, because of weevil infestations in Mexico, the pest is not completely eradicated in parts of Texas and other parts of the southern border of the U.S. It remains a serious cotton pest in parts of Central and South America, such as Mexico and Brazil, where farmers rely on heavy insecticide use to control it.  

The Brazilian researchers produced cotton plants that express a Bt protein called Cry10a in their flower buds and leaf tissue. The protein proved quite toxic to boll weevils in their test, showing “a high level of CBW mortality (up to 100%).” The study is an exciting development for South American and Central American farmers, as well as North American growers who wish to keep the boll weevil eradicated. “These Cry10Aa GM cotton plants represent a great advance in the control of the devastating CBW insect pest and can substantially impact cotton agribusiness,” the scientists concluded.

See the study here:…

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