In recent years, transgenic crops have increased significantly in their usage in agriculture. Many of these crops produce insecticidal Bt proteins that target specific insect pests. As with conventional chemicals, it is important to know the fate of these insecticidal Bt proteins in the environment. The fate data is used in the risk assessment process to determine potential exposure of the insecticidal Bt proteins to non-target organisms.
Prior work in the lab has focused on the fate of some of these insecticidal Bt proteins in aquatic and soil microcosm. Current work in the lab aims to improve detection of these insecticidal Bt proteins in environmental samples with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), to ensure that only intact, bioactive proteins are being detected.
Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) is the future of transgenic insecticides. Double-stranded RNA kills insects by inducing RNA interference (RNAi) pathways to inhibit gene expression. The lab plans to being studying the fate of these dsRNA molecules in aquatic environments.
Some relevant publications:
Prihoda, K, and J.R. Coats. 2008. Fate of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Cry3Bb1 protein in a soil microcosm. Chemosphere 73: 1102-1107.
Prihoda, K., and J.R. Coats. 2008. Aquatic fate and effects of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry3Bb1 protein: Toward risk assessment. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 27: 793-798.
Kosaki, Hirofumi, Jeffrey. D. Wolt, Kan Wang, and Joel Coats. 2008. Subacute effects of maize-expressed vaccine protein, Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin subunit B (LTB), on the springtail, Folsomia candida and the earthworm, Eisenia fetida. J. Agric. Food Chem. 56: 11342-11347.
Clark, B.W., K.R. Prihoda, and J.R. Coats. 2006. Subacute effects of transgenic Cry1Ab Bacillus thuringiensis corn litter on the isopods Trachelipus rathkii and Armadillidium nasatum. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 25(10): 2653-2661.
Clark, B.W., T.A. Phillips, and J.R. Coats. 2005. Environmental fate and effects of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) proteins from transgenic crops: a review. J. Agric. Food Chem. 53(12): 4643-4653.