Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Technology protects cotton from caterpillar’s appetite

The furry-looking insects start their development smaller than the head of a pin, but the caterpillars soon develop an appetite for cotton as big as the crop.

To demonstrate the insects’ destructive power, Clemson University entomologist Jeremy Greene planted two cotton varieties — one genetically modified to provide protection from caterpillars, one not — in a demonstration field at the Edisto Research and Education Center.

The non-protected cotton was planted in a pattern that spelled the word “Tigers.” Aerial photographs taken near harvest show that while the genetically modified crop survived intact, the unprotected plants provided three square meals a day for the crop-hungry herbivores.

The demonstration crop was planted in late May last year and grew through the summer.

“We wanted to show the kind of damage caterpillars can do when they’re allowed to eat unprotected cotton freely,” Greene said.

Cotton is a multimillion dollar crop in the Palmetto State involving hundreds of farms and thousands of jobs.

Nearly all cotton varieties planted in South Carolina contain genes found in the naturally occurring Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, that help the plant make its own insecticide.

Bt cotton is genetically modified with specific genes from Bacillus thuringiensis. Think of it as in-plant insecticide, Greene said. This technology has been commercially available since 1996, but improvements over the years have enhanced the control of major pests.

The plant makes the proteins just like the bacterium does. The particular strain of Bacillus thuringiensis available in cotton, which was planted for the demonstration, works only on immature lepidopterans, or caterpillars. Lepidoptera is the insect order for moths and butterflies. The toxic proteins have no ill effects on other organisms.

“During 2010, we had a very high population of bollworm that infested cotton acres at the Edisto research center,” Greene said. “We planted a non-Bt variety where you see the word 'Tigers' and a two-gene Bt cotton where you see the fluffy white cotton lint.”

The striking difference in appearance is due to bollworms eating all of the green cotton bolls in the non-Bt variety that did not have protection from the insects.

Greene applied no insecticides to control caterpillars in this field, so the difference between the Bt and non-Bt varieties is illustrated clearly.

A color-coded yield map, produced by precision agriculture specialist Will Henderson at the Edisto center, illustrates the crop after harvest using one of the center’s pickers that is equipped with a yield monitor. The map shows “good” yields in green and “bad” yields in red.

The damage potential of important lepidopteran species, such as bollworm, is not new, Greene said. Moths have flown into fields, laid eggs and hatched as injurious caterpillars for decades.

Transgenic Bt technology and its improvement over the years are relatively recent advances that represent effective, economical and environmentally friendly control of these insects in agriculture, he said.

“We know what they can do to non-Bt cotton versus Bt cotton — the photographs speak for themselves,” Greene said.

Jeremy Greene | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Earlier flowering of modern winter wheat cultivars
20.03.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Algorithm could streamline harvesting of hand-picked crops
13.03.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>