Searching for the quick kill Budworm virus looks promising

Insect cells grown in culture provide a convenient way of growing viruses. Dr Peter Christian screening infected cells (inset virus).

A project at the CSIRO Division of Entomology seeks a quicker kill of budworm by introducing 'insecticidal genes' into the DNA of a promising virus.

The object of this engineering is to achieve a kill of the insect before it has time to feed on and damage the crop.

Although naturally occurring viruses have shown promise, they can take upwards of five days to kill an infected bud worm. Overseas experience suggests that the use of insecticidal genes can reduce the kill-time of a virus by almost 50 per cent.

The GRDC, ICI and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation are collaborating with the CSIRO in the project. Insecticide resistance is a perennial problem for budworm control.

The research team hope that a product will be on the market around the turn of the century.