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What are Bt Crops? Introduction, Types & Advantages

Bt Crops are transgenic crops that produce the same toxin as the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis in the plant cell, thereby, protecting the crops from pests. The bacterium secretes specific proteins known as “cry proteins” that are toxic to insects.

Ayushi Raina
cotton plant
cotton plant

“Bt crops are genetically modified transgenic crops derived from the Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium's DNA.”

Bt Crops are transgenic plants that generate the same toxin as the Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria in the plant cell, protecting the crops against pests. The bacterium produces specific proteins known as "cry proteins" that are secreted by the bacteria. Bt crops include cotton, brinjal, corn, etc.

When an insect eats transgenic plants, the deadly cry protein in the plants crystallizes in the insect's digestive tract, eventually kills it. It has no negative impact on the human digestive system, though.

Bacillus thuringiensis

Bacillus thuringiensis is a gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium found mostly in soil. It generates proteins that are harmful to insects, as previously indicated. To protect their plants from pests, organic farmers mix this bacteria into a solution and spray it on the plants.

The practice of utilizing Bacillus thuringiensis genes began in 1996. This made it easier for plant cells to produce cry proteins, which help to fight pests. Crop yields were mostly devastated by pests such as the European and southern corn borer, tobacco and cotton budworm, pink bollworm, and Colorado potato beetle. Bacillus thuringiensis was used to protect the crops from pests.

Types of Bt Crops:

Bt Cotton

Cotton plants have been genetically engineered with the Bt gene to protect them from the bollworm, a significant pest of the crop.

Bt cotton is an insect-resistant transgenic crop developed to combat the bollworm. It was produced by genetically modifying the cotton genome to express a Bacillus thuringiensis microbial protein. Toxin crystals are produced by the genetically modified gene that has been inserted into the plant's genome, which the plant would not usually generate. When a specific population of organisms consume this, it dissolves within the stomach lining, causing the organisms to die.

The worms that live on the leaves of Bt cotton become sluggish and drowsy, causing the plants to suffer less harm. Pests ingest the toxins generated by the crops, resulting in their death.

Bt Brinjal

It's also produced by the genetic modification of the Bacillus thuringiensis crystal protein gene cry 1 Ac. This crop was created to protect it against Lepidopteron insects. Bt genes generate proteins that bind to receptors on the insect's membrane, causing pores to develop. The digestive system is harmed, and as a result the insect dies.

Bt Maize

The Bt maize was formed to eradicate the corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera, also known as the billion-dollar bug.

Bt maize is the common name for these crops, which are also derived from Bacillus thuringiensis.

However, in a number of countries, this crop has reinvented pest control.

Advantages of Bt crops:

• It aids in escalating crop yield and thereby increasing the farmer's income. As a result, farm production increases.

• They aid in soil pollution control by reducing the use of synthetic pesticides.

• Beneficial insects are protected by Bt crops.

• Due to increased yields in a short period of time, it can easily feed an expanding population.

• Because pesticides are used less, it results in the production of disease-free crops.

• It results in increased productivity in a small amount of land.

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