Fresh New Insect Trait

July 30, 2010 08:40 AM
Fresh New Insect Trait

No one will ever accuse Greg Warren of wasting milk. A few years back, the Syngenta scientist came home from a week-long vacation to find the milk in his refrigerator had gone sour. Instead of pitching the stuff, he took it to the lab to see what bacteria it might contain.

In 2011, corn growers will get their first commercial taste of hybrids containing a trait that expresses the unique bacterium born from Warren’s spoiled milk. The new Agrisure Viptera trait has demonstrated control of a broad spectrum of lepidopteran corn pests, such as corn earworm, Western bean cutworm, black cutworm, fall armyworm, common stalk borer and sugarcane borer.

This is the corn industry’s first non-Cry (non-crystalline) insect control protein. You’re familiar with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), the naturally occurring, soil-dwelling bacterium that produces many different insecticidal crystals, or Cry proteins. Since the mid-1990s, these proteins have helped keep key corn insect pests at bay.

Different is good. What Warren discovered through his experiment was more than spoiled milk. Bt also produces vegetative insecticidal proteins (VIP), a new class of proteins that have not been used in existing Bt corn hybrids. The novel insecticidal protein in the Agrisure Viptera trait is called Vip3A, and it is a member of the VIP class of proteins.

The key feature of Vip3A is that it acts on target insects in a different way. That’s important because it reduces the chance that insects might become resistant to the traits.

The Agrisure Viptera trait will be combined with the Agrisure 3000GT trait stack to form the new Agrisure Viptera 3111 trait stack with above-and belowground insect control.

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