Microbiology 3302 Spring 2013 – Getting Friendly with Bacteria

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    Hi my name is Bacillus thuringiensis and I’m a natural pesticide.

    I was first discovered in 1901 by a Japanese Biologist named Shigetane Ishiwatari, while researching sudden collapse disease that killed silkworms. I was forgotten until 1911 when I was rediscovered by Ernst Berliner. You might be saying enough about my history already but wait this is important. Well, where was I…oh yeah in 1911 awww fond memories, I wiped out a large population of moths in the German town of Thuringia and Ta- Da thats where my name came from.

    My name is Bacillus thuringiensis aka Bt. I’m a gram positive, soil dwelling, spore forming, rod shape bacteria. I’m also in the stomach of some caterpillars. I have two relatives B. anthracis who is a toxic bacteria called anthrax and B. cereus who is notorious for causing food poisoning. Lets make it clear… we are only similar in structure because I am much less toxic. In fact I’m safe to people, pets and wildlife. You don’t need a protective suit, gloves or gas mask like other pesticides because I’m organic. And I go for specific pest not all so no worries I do more good than harm. Farmers use me on food crops where pesticides would be harmful. My only downfall is I’m susceptible to degradation by sunlight hmmm what does this mean? well, simple the sun deactivates me so I strongly encourage farmers to spray me on at night. I’ m aerobic and happy. You must be wondering how my magic unfold well this is how… Like I said before I’m a spore forming bacteria that produces crystal proteins. These proteins are eaten by the susceptible insects. The crystal binds to receptors in the insects intestine. This paralyzed their digestive system and the infected insect stop feeding within hours. This effect cause insect to die of starvation within several days. So there you have it… I am famous and fabulous. I’m everywhere. The next time you bite into your salad you can thank me…



    Hello B.thuringiensis!! My name is Bacillus anthracis , I prefer Anthrax,, we can be friends!, we’re both gram positive and love making spores ! And just like you we make people sick if they digest our spores! Isn’t that cool?!

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