Several isolates of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) were screened for the vegetative insecticidal protein (Vip) effective against sap-sucking insect pests. Screening results were based on LC 50 values against cotton aphid (Aphis gossypii), one of the dangerous pests of various crop plants including cotton. Among the isolates, the Bt#BREF24 showed promising results, and upon purification the aphidicidal protein was recognized as a binary toxin. One of the components of this binary toxin was identified by peptide sequencing to be a homolog of Vip2A that has been reported previously in other Bacillus spp. Vip2 belongs to the binary toxin group Vip1-Vip2, and is responsible for the enzymatic activity; and Vip1 is the translocation and receptor binding protein. The two genes encoding the corresponding proteins of the binary toxin, designated as vip2Ae and vip1Ae, were cloned from the Bt#BREF24, sequenced, and heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli. Aphid feeding assay with the recombinant proteins confirmed that these proteins are indeed the two components of the binary toxins, and the presence of both partners is essential for the activity. Aphid specificity of the binary toxin was further verified by ligand blotting experiment, which identified an ~50 kDa receptor in the brush border membrane vesicles of the cotton aphids only, but not in the lepidopteran insects. Our finding holds a promise of its use in future as a candidate gene for developing transgenic crop plants tolerant against sap-sucking insect pests.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology