European corn borer has been a threat to crops in the United States since the early 1900’s. Controlling ECB was made possible with the use of Bt cultures as insecticides. Recently, genetic engineering has allowed Bt genes to be inserted into plants so they can produce their own Bt insecticidal protein.
There are four stages in the ECB lifecycle including egg, larva (also instars), pupa, and adult. The stage that causes the most damage to corn is the larva stage. The main damage caused by ECB to corn plants includes holes in the leaves and cavities inside the stalk.
European corn borer have a variety of host plants. Some of the most common include corn, cotton, vegetables, and soybeans. The ECB also cycle through different generations. There can be anywhere from one to four different generations depending on what part of the United States the ECB are located.
Bacillus thuringiensis is a soil borne organism, with many different strains found throughout the world. The most commonly susceptible insects are coleoptera, lepidoptera, and diptera. Bt kills ECB by being ingested. Once the Bt toxin is ingested, it will bind to the mid-gut releasing the toxin and causing death.
Currently, there are three different events (Mon 810, Bt-11, and TC1507) commercially available in transgenic corn, each with its own characteristics. These characteristics can include expressing Bt in the green leaf tissue, expressing Bt in all plant tissues, controlling different generations of ECB, and herbicide tolerance.