Caption: Bacillus thuringiensis – Gram-positive, spore forming, soil bacterium (prokaryote). Bacillus thuringiensis is a natural soil bacterium that produces a toxin called, Cry toxin. The bacterium itself can be used as a biological control agent or the isolated toxin can be used as a commercial insecticide. B. thuringiensis was first used in Germany in 1911 as a bacterial pathogen for flour moths in the province of Thuringia. Spraying or dusting plants with spores of this bacterium appear to be an environmentally safe way to attack such pests as the gypsy moth, the tent caterpillar, and the tobacco / tomato hornworm. B. thuringiensis is considered safe to humans. When Bacillus thuringiensis produces spores it also creates the toxic protein crystals (Cry toxin). The bacteria kill larvae when they ingest the bacterium and thus the toxin they produce. Other strains of B. thuringiensis have been developed to control specific insects, such as mosquitoes and potato beetles.
Magnification*: x4,000
Type: SEM
Copyright 2010 Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.
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