Recombinant cells of Pseudomonas fluorescens: a highly palatable encapsulation for delivery of genetically engineered toxins to subterranean termites (Isoptera Rhinotermitidae)

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In the CellCap® process (Mycogen Corp., San Diego, CA), recombinant cells of the bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens are induced to express the δ-endotoxin of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), then killed and fixed to encapsulate the δ-endotoxin. Two commercial agricultural formulations prepared by the CellCap® process were evaluated for palatability to the termite Coptotermes formosanus. The MVP® formulation, active against Lepidoptera, contained the Ps. flourescens-encapsulated δ-endotoxin of Bt var. kurstaki. The M-Trak™ formulation, active against Coleoptera, contained the δ-endotoxin of Bt var. san diego. Papers treated with either formulation at concentrations as great as 1 g cm-3 were readily fed upon by C. formosanus. As expected, the two formulations tested were not significantly toxic to the termites, both having optimal activity at a pH range outside that of the termite gut. The palatability of the CellCap® formulations indicates that the host bacterium, Ps. fluorescens, is a suitable delivery system for genetically engineered termiticides.

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