Avidin and Plant Biotechnology to Control Pests

  • Harry Martin
  • Elisabeth P. J. Burgess
  • Michal Masarik
  • Karl J. Kramer
  • Miroslava Beklova
  • Vojtech Adam
  • Rene KizekEmail author
Part of the Sustainable Agriculture Reviews book series (SARV, volume 4)


The urgency of the global food crisis, coupled with the environmental impact of global warming and fuel shortages, indicate that transgenic methods may be required to enhance food production and quality. Widely used chemical insecticides, such as phosphine and methyl bromide, are losing their utility either due to insect resistance or to the environmental damage they cause. It is most unlikely that traditional plant-breeding methods for generating insect resistance will deliver the crop improvements required in the available time frame. In this review, we discuss the application of transgenic avidin, a protein naturally occurring in egg-white, for the protection of rice, maize, potato and apple leaf from insect pests. Avidin binds the vitamin biotin with extraordinary affinity (10−15 M). Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin required for normal cellular metabolism and growth. The presence of avidin in the diet of insect pests is lethal since biotin is unavailable to them. The use of streptavidin, a bacterial homologue of avidin, is also described. We discuss the sub-cellular targeting of avidin expression in plants to avoid toxicity to the plant host and we describe the qualities of avidin which make it suitable for crop protection during cultivation and storage. Avidin is stable under normal conditions of crop storage but biodegradable and destroyed by cooking. These combined qualities make it an excellent choice for the protection of crops from insects. Finally, we discuss the modification of the avidin gene to allow expression in plants, the methods for transfection of the gene into plants, and the approaches used to quantify gene expression and avidin function in plant tissues. These methods include: polymerase chain reaction; enzyme-linked immmunosorbent assay; polyacrylamide gel-electrophoresis; fluorescence polarisation (FP); capillary electrophoresis; tissue-printing; square-wave voltammetry (SWV) and the measurement of larvae morbidity and mortality.


Transgenic plants avidin–biotin technology agriculture electrochemical method 



alternating current


adsorptive transfer stripping


carbon paste electrode


deoxyribonucleic acid


enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay


fluorescence polarization


polymerase chain reaction


sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


square-wave voltammetry



Financial support from grants MSMT 6215712402 is highly acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry Martin
    • 1
  • Elisabeth P. J. Burgess
    • 1
  • Michal Masarik
    • 2
  • Karl J. Kramer
    • 3
  • Miroslava Beklova
    • 4
  • Vojtech Adam
    • 5
    • 6
  • Rene Kizek
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.The Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand LimitedMt Albert Research CentreAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Pathological Physiology, Faculty of MedicineMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic
  3. 3.Agricultural Research Service, US Department of AgricultureGrain Marketing and Production Research CenterManhattanUSA
  4. 4.Department of Veterinary Ecology and Environmental Protection, Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene and EcologyUniversity of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical SciencesBrnoCzech Republic
  5. 5.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryMendel University of Agriculture and ForestryBrnoCzech Republic
  6. 6.Department of Animal Nutrition and Forage Production, Faculty of AgronomyMendel University of Agriculture and ForestryBrnoCzech Republic

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