Science - June 30, 2005

Bacteria makes poison to protect cacao

A transgenic cacao plant that is resistant to the cocoa pod borer is a step closer since Dr Tetty Chaidamsari finished her PhD research.

Chaidamsari identified a poison in the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, a Cry toxin, that turned out to be very effective at killing the larvae of the cocoa pod borer. Chaidamsari’s supervisor Dr Ruud de Maagd of Plant Research International: ‘The most interesting aspect of this research is not so much in the details, but the combination of techniques that Chaidamsari used: bioassays with Bt toxins on insects, gene expression studies and the development of transformation protocols for cacao. These are all directed to obtaining a transgenic cacao that is resistant to the cocoa pod borer, an extremely damaging insect in Indonesia. The transgenic cacao has not yet been achieved, this is a more long-term goal, especially as cacao is a slow growing plant.’ / HB

Tetty Chaidamsari received her PhD on 28 June. Her promotor was Professor of Plant Breeding, Evert Jacobsen.

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