Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt)

Last Updated: August 7, 2017

Definition - What does Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) mean?

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a type of spore-forming bacterium. Bt occurs naturally in the soil of all types of terrain such as mountains, coastlands, prairies, deserts, and tundras.

There are thousands of types of Bt that produce crystal proteins that have been found to be toxic to many insect pests. Bt is widely used in organic farming as a natural, biological pest control method to combat such pests.

MaximumYield explains Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt)

Japanese scientist Shigetane Ishiwata was the first to isolate Bacillus thuringiensis. In the 1950s, Bt started to be widely used as a natural pest control method.

When a pest insect ingests Bt, the bacterium releases its toxic crystal proteins, which quickly kill the insect by blocking the insect’s ability to protect its digestive tract from its own corrosive digestive juices. However, Bt does not harm birds, animals, or humans.

Bt undergoes two life phases: the vegetative stage and the spore stage. During the spore stage, the crystal proteins are at their most toxic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also been using Bt to kill disease causing mosquitoes around the world.

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