The Development and Release of Genetically Engineered Viral Insecticides: A Progress Report 1986–1989

  • Robert D. Possee
  • Alison T. Merryweather
  • Ulrike Weyer
  • Mark P. G. Harris
  • M. Hirst
  • David H. L. Bishop


Natural virus insecticides have been used for many years to control insect pests. The baculoviruses have found particular favour for this purpose. Unlike most chemical insecticides, they affect a limited number of insect species. They have no effect on other insects, invertebrates (such as earthworms), vertebrates or plants. Furthermore, they do not pollute the environment or cause adverse reactions in soil or water. However, they are slow to kill the target insect species, often taking several days or weeks to do so. For this reason they have not gained widespread favour in modern agricultural practices. The use of chemical insecticides is preferred because they are much faster acting agents. Despite this disadvantage, in some situations baculoviruses present a viable alternative to chemicals. These include areas that are environmentally sensitive (e.g., in forests and water catchment areas), where the costs of chemicals are prohibitive or where the pest species has developed resistance to the available chemical insecticides (e.g., Cunningham, 1982; Entwistle and Evans, 1985; Podgewaite, 1985; Huber, 1986; Evans and Entwistle, 1987). Furthermore, there is now a groundswell of public opinion opposed to the use of chemicals which has added impetus to the search for alternatives. This paper discusses the use of genetic engineering to improve baculovirus insecticides and the results of a programme to introduce these agents into the environment.


Bacillus Thuringiensis Chemical Insecticide Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus Sugar Beet Plant Infected Insect 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert D. Possee
    • 1
  • Alison T. Merryweather
    • 1
  • Ulrike Weyer
    • 1
  • Mark P. G. Harris
    • 1
  • M. Hirst
    • 1
  • David H. L. Bishop
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Virology and Environmental MicrobiologvOxfordUK

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