posted in: Science | 20
Bt effectively and selectively kills certain insects. Images from the Bacillus thuringiensis info page.

Bt, short for Bacillus thuringiensis, is a bacteria that produces a protein that kills certain types of insects. Different types of the gene that produces thais protein have been engineered into crops to make them resistant to those insects. The approach has been quite successful but the details can be confusing.

If you’re looking for science-based information on Bt crops, check out the Bacillus thuringiensis info page that was developed by Karen Chien of the University of California, San Diego, with the assistance of Raffi Aroian. The material is a little dated, but it’s still a great resource. I especially enjoy the cartoons!  🙂

The Aroian lab studies the ways that “target pests develop resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis crystal proteins in order to protect this valuable natural resource.” They’re also studying how Bt could be used to treat parasites in animals and people, as in their recent article in PLoS: Bacillus thuringiensis Cry5B protein is highly efficacious as a single-dose therapy against an intestinal roundworm infection in mice (full text).

Thanks to Mica Veihman (@Mica_MON on Twitter) for reminding me about this great resource.

Follow Anastasia Bodnar:
Anastasia is Policy Director of Biology Fortified, Inc. and the Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. She has a PhD in genetics with a minor in sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. Her favorite produce is artichokes!