Plastid-expressed Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cry3Bb confers high mortality to a leaf eating beetle in poplar

Plant Cell Rep. 2020 Mar;39(3):317-323. doi: 10.1007/s00299-019-02492-0. Epub 2019 Dec 3.


The Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cry3Bb gene was successfully introduced into poplar plastid genome, leading to transplastomic poplar with high mortality to Plagiodera versicolora. Poplar (Populus L.) is one of the main resource of woody industry, but being damaged by insect pests. The feasibility and efficiency of plastid transformation technology for controlling two lepidopteran caterpillars have been demonstrated previously. Here, we introduced B. thuringiensis (Bt) cry3Bb into poplar plastid genome by biolistic bombardment for controlling P. versicolora, a widely distributed forest pest. Chimeric cry3Bb gene is controlled by the tobacco plastid rRNA operon promoter combined with the 5'UTR from gene10 of bacteriophage T7 (NtPrrn:T7g10) and the 3'UTR from the E. coli ribosomal RNA operon rrnB (TrrnB). The integration of transgene and homoplasmy of transplastomic poplar plants was confirmed by Southern blot analysis. Northern blot analysis indicated that cry3Bb was transcribed to both read through and shorter length transcripts in plastid. The transplastomic poplar expressing Cry3Bb insecticidal protein showed the highest accumulation level in young leaves, which reach up to 16.8 μg/g fresh weight, and comparatively low levels in mature and old leaves. Feeding the young leaves from Bt-Cry3Bb plastid lines to P. versicolora caused 100% mortality in the first-instar larvae after only 1 day, in the second-instar larvae after 2 days, and in the third-instar larvae for 3 days. Thus, we report a successful extension of plastid engineering poplar against the chrysomelid beetle.

Keywords: Bacillus thuringiensis; Insect resistance; Leaf beetle; Plastid genome engineering; Poplar.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacillus thuringiensis / metabolism*
  • Bacillus thuringiensis Toxins
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / toxicity
  • Coleoptera / drug effects
  • Coleoptera / physiology*
  • Endotoxins / metabolism*
  • Endotoxins / toxicity
  • Feeding Behavior* / drug effects
  • Genetic Vectors / metabolism
  • Genome, Plastid
  • Hemolysin Proteins / metabolism*
  • Hemolysin Proteins / toxicity
  • Larva / drug effects
  • Larva / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Leaves / parasitology*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Plastids / metabolism*
  • Populus / genetics*
  • Populus / parasitology*
  • Transformation, Genetic


  • Bacillus thuringiensis Toxins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Endotoxins
  • Hemolysin Proteins
  • insecticidal crystal protein, Bacillus Thuringiensis