Genetic improvement of entomopathogenic microbes: A retrospection
Hari Sankar SS and Reji Rani OP
Entomopathogenic microbes are one among the three pillars upon which, the practical applicability of biological control as a pest management strategy has built upon. Their usage as effective pesticidal compounds started long before the advent of first chemical insecticides. The most prominent one, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has been in use since 1939. Inspite of their ecofriendliness and safety parameters, their wide scale acceptance is still hindered by and large due to various factors. Narrow host range, slow kill nature, and expensive mass production protocols are few lacunae worth quoting. With the advent of biotechnology, genetic manipulation rose to be the single best solution to augment microbial pathogens of insects to emerge as suitable contenders for the less preferred chemical pesticides. On one side there is a vast pool of potent genes including arthropod toxin genes and on the other, there is an ocean of opportunities facilitated by modern biotechnology. The rising genetic manipulation also calls for addressing the ethical issues associated with it.