Clemson-led team makes breakthrough in controlling Bt resistance in pests

ow to monitor the situation, catching Bt resistance before it ended the usefulness of Bt cotton.

Developing an early-detection method had proved to be extremely difficult prior to Gahan's and her colleagues' breakthrough. Through DNA analysis, the researchers found that disruption of a gene could be linked to Bt-resistance.

"This is a first step to understanding the development of Bt-resistance by insect pests," Gahan said. "This discovery will open the door for other researchers and monitoring governmental agencies to assess resistance mechanisms and management strategies in insect pests. It will help us keep a handle on the development of insect resistance to Bt-genetically modified plants."

Gahan came to Clemson University in 1988 as an assistant professor/research associate in the biological sciences department. She and Heckel began mapping the Heliothis virescens (tobacco budworm) genome in 1991. Heckel left in 1999 to become a senior lecturer in the genetics department at the University of Melbourne. Prior to leaving Clemson, he received funding from the National Science Foundation to find the Bt-resistant gene in the tobacco budworm, resulting in the research conducted by Gahan, Heckel and Gould over the past two years.

Gahan earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Bucknell University in 1964 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Illinois in 1968.


Contact: Peter Kent
Clemson University

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