Expression of insecticidal activity in Rhizobium containing the δ-endotoxin gene cloned from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. tenebrionis

Leif Skot, Stephen P. Harrison, Amit Nath, Lance R. Mytton, Brian Clifford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. tenebrionis produces a 65 kilodalton polypeptide toxin which is lethal to various coleopteran insect larvae. The gene encoding this toxin was cloned in E. coli in the broad host range vector pKT230 and subsequently transferred to Rhizobium leguminosarum by conjugation. Western blot analysis showed that the toxin gene was expressed in the free living state of Rhizobium producing two major polypeptides of 73 and 68 kilodalton in size. The level of expression of the toxin gene in Rhizobium varied from strain to strain. Cell extracts from toxin-producing rhizobia were toxic to larvae of Gasterophysa viridula. Bioassays also showed that the δ-endotoxin was toxic to larvae of the clover weevil Sitona lepidus. Furthermore, pea (Pisum sativum) and white clover (Trifolium repens) plants suffered less root and nodule damage by Sitona larvae when they were inoculated with Rhizobium strains containing the toxin gene. This suggests that such rhizobia could be useful in the biological control of this important legume pest.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-295
Number of pages11
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume127
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1990

Keywords

  • Bacillus thuringiensis
  • delta-endotoxin
  • insectidal activity
  • legumes
  • Rhizobium
  • Sitona spp.
  • δ-endotoxin

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