21 August 1997
Cloned viral protein to wage war on pests
ENHANCIN may soon be inserted genetically into bug-ridden vegetable plants such as cauliflower and cabbage. The newly cloned viral protein wreaks havoc on the larvae of agricultural pests.
Enhancin is an enzyme found in some baculoviruses which are highly specific to insect pests. The enzyme helps make baculoviruses more effective.
Farmers could in future spray crystals containing both enhancin and a pest-specific baculovirus.
Field trials are some three to four years away. Researchers believe the protein may be bred into the leaves of cash crops such as cotton, corn and tobacco.
It could prove a useful extension to the insecticidal toxin from bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacteria commonly used today.