The Use of Biotin-Binding Proteins for Insect Control

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Biotin-binding proteins (BBPs), expressed in transgenic plants, are insecticidal to a very wide range of insects. The expression levels required are generally low (≈100 ppm), and although higher than required for Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) δ-endotoxins, BBPs are effective across a broader range of insect orders and other invertebrates than the Bt Cry proteins. Avidin and streptavidin, in particular, have been reported as causing death or severe growth reduction in at least 40 species of insects across five insect orders (Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Orthoptera, Diptera, and leaf-eating Hymenoptera) and mites. In addition, due largely to its rapid dilution in ecosystems, no adverse impacts on nontarget microorganisms or invertebrates have been recorded. Because the target, biotin, cannot itself be modified to prevent it binding to BBPs and remain effective as a vitamin, the major avenue open to insects to develop resistance is unavailable. Two properties of the biotin-avidin complex make it highly suitable for use in transgenic plant crop protection strategies against a large range of insects; its extreme stability and its resistance to proteolysis. However, because the nutritional value of the plant could potentially be compromised in the absence of biotin supplementation, its use in nonfood crops such as fiber, forestry, and biofuel crops is seen as the most suitable initial focus for this technology.

Keywords: avidin; biotin; pest control; streptavidin; transgenic plant

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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