Written by Sharon Durham of USDA, Agricultural Research Service

Sustainable Ag 1 | MBIA bacterium discovered by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists that is toxic to Colorado potato beetle larvae also was found in preliminary studies to be toxic in varying degrees to gypsy moth, small hive beetle and tobacco hornworm. Now, ARS has licensed the technology to Marrone Organic Innovations, Inc., of Davis, Calif., and Natural Industries, Inc., of Houston, Texas.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.

Microbiologist Phyllis Martin, technician Ashaki D. Shropshire-Mitchell, entomologist Michael Blackburn, and molecular biologist Dawn Gundersen-Rindal, all at the ARS Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., found a new bacterial species called Chromobacterium subtsugae. The group then found that the bacterium displayed toxicity to immature Colorado potato beetles. Additional studies will be conducted to determine potential toxicity to non-target insects.

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