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Electronic Journal of Biotechnology

versión On-line ISSN 0717-3458

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SHARMA, Hari C.; SHARMA, Kiran K.; SEETHARAMA, Nadoor  y  ORTIZ, Rodomiro. Prospects for using transgenic resistance to insects in crop improvement. Electron. J. Biotechnol. [online]. 2000, vol.3, n.2, pp. 21-22. ISSN 0717-3458.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-34582000000200001.

Integrated pest management has historically placed great hopes on host plant resistance. However, conventional host-plant resistance to insects involves quantitative traits at several loci. As a result, the progress has been slow and difficult to achieve. With the advent of genetic transformation techniques, it has become possible to clone and insert genes into the crop plants to confer resistance to insect pests. Resistance to insects has been demonstrated in transgenic plants expressing genes for d-endotoxins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), protease inhibitors, enzymes and plant lectins. Most of the plant derived genes produce chronic rather than toxic effects and some insect pests are not sensitive to some of these factors. The potential of plant derived genes can be realised by deploying them in combination with host plant resistance and exotic genes. Genes conferring resistance to insects have been inserted into crop plants such as maize, cotton, potato, tobacco, potatoes, rice, broccoli, lettuce, walnuts, apples, alfalfa and soybean. Genetically transformed crops with Bt genes have been deployed for cultivation in USA, China and Australia. However, very little has been done to use this technology for improving crop production in the harsh environments of the tropics, where the need for increasing food production is most urgent. International agricultural research centres, advanced research institutes and the seed sector should make an effort to use these new tools for increasing food production in poorer regions of the world. There is an urgent need to develop a scientifically sound strategy to deploy exotic and plant derived genes for minimising the extent of losses caused by insect pests. Equally important is the need for following the biosafety regulations, more responsible public debate, social attitude and better presentation of the benefits for a rational deployment of the genetically transformed plants.

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