Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 83, Issue 1–2, pp 131–141 | Cite as

Expression of Cry1Aa in cassava improves its insect resistance against Helicoverpa armigera

  • Xiaoguang Duan
  • Jia Xu
  • Erjun Ling
  • Peng Zhang


Lepidopteran insects affect cassava production globally, especially in intercropping system. The expression of Cry toxins in transgenic crops has contributed to an efficient control of insect pests, leading to a significant reduction in chemical insecticide usage. Helicoverpa armigera is a Lepidopteran pest that feeds on a wide range of plants like cotton and cassava. In the present study, transgenic cassava plants over-expressing Cry1Aa, which we named as Bt cassava, were developed and used to evaluate its efficacy against H. armigera as a model. Insect feeding assays were carried out to test the effects of Bt cassava leaves on the development and survival of H. armigera. Significant reduction (P < 0.05) in the survival and weight were detected on larvae fed with Bt cassava leaves in comparison with those fed with wild-type cassava leaves. The higher expression of Cry1Aa in transgenic cassava caused the lethal effect in larvae, in contrast to the normal growth and development of adults and pupation observed when fed with wild-type leaves. Morphological observation on the larval midguts showed that the consumption of Bt cassava affected the gut integrity of H. armigera. The columnar cells of the midgut epithelium were dramatically damaged and showed loose or disordered structure. Their cytoplasms become highly vacuolated and contained disorganized microvilli. Our study demonstrated that the transgenic cassava expressing the Cry1Aa is effective in controlling H. armigera. Our Bt transgenic cassava plant would provide a long-term beneficial effect on all crops in intercropping system, which in-turn, will be profitable to the farmers.


Manihot esculenta Crantz Cry1Aa Helicoverpa armigera Insect resistance Toxicological analysis 



We thank Prof. Xiaoyan Gao, Dr. Jiqin Li and Dr. Zhiping Zhang for the preparation of sections for TEM. We thank Dr. Qimiao Shao and Mr. Bing Yang for their technical assistance on paraffin sections. This work was supported financially by the National Basic Research and Development Program (2010CB126605) and the Earmarked Fund for China Agriculture Research System (CARS-12).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoguang Duan
    • 1
  • Jia Xu
    • 1
  • Erjun Ling
    • 2
  • Peng Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.National Key Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics, SIBS-ETH Shanghai Center for Cassava Biotechnology, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Insect Developmental and Evolutionary Biology, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesShanghaiChina

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