Healthy eggplants thanks to Bacillus thuringiensis
Insect pests like fruit and shoot borers pose a significant threat to food security in many regions of the world. External application of chemical insecticides has proven unsuitable. Therefore, the research industry has high hopes for biologics. These products enable plants to build their own defenses. For example, the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis can be used to help crops develop resistance to harmful insects.
Sunday, April 5, 2020
- If pests establish themselves in the core of a plant, external treatment with plant protection products is of no use.
- Depending on the harmful organism, plants therefore need defence mechanisms from the inside.
- With the help of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, aubergines can be made resistant to insect pests.
Insect pests can often be combated with the external application of plant protection products. However, when it comes to fruit and shoot borers (FSBs), which penetrate the core of a fruit, the situation is more challenging. Chemicals that are applied externally simply do not help. The plants need internal defenses. Agricultural biologicals (or biologics) are beneficial crop production and protection tools that are largely created from living organisms, derived from natural materials, contain them, or use naturally-occurring processes.
Microbes for healthy plants
A handful of soil contains billions of living microorganisms. Biologicals use these naturally occurring materials or their mechanisms – and thus the enormous potential that lies within the soil. Every year, scientists at Bayer research hundreds of thousands of microbial strains and explore how their characteristics and diverse genetics can be used to make healthier plans and more secure harvests. Some microbial products grow as their crops’ roots grow, which can increase the availability of valuable nutrients like phosphate or nitrogen that plants need to thrive. Impressive advances have been made in plant protection research, particularly in the field of biologics. The use of biologics can have as significant an impact on crop yields as the use of specific seed or fertilizer.
Bt protein provides internal defense
Bacillus thuringiensis is a valuable soil bacteriumthat has been used for decades to fight a variety of insect larvae and beetles. It is approved for use in both conventional and organic farming. The bacterium produces a Bt protein that is toxic to many insect pests. By equipping plants with a gene from the Bt bacterium, we can give them insect resistance. Bt-modified plants can produce their own Bt proteins and thus protect themselves from pests. This technology is exceptionally precise as it only affects insects that attack the plant directly. Beneficial insects and other animals are not impacted. Farmers can thus protect their crop yields without using chemical pesticides.
In Bangladesh, farmers are currently growing Bt-modified eggplants (Bt brinjal). The eggplants are unharmed by pests and the fruits and yields are larger and more nutrient-rich.
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