Common virulence factors and tissue targets of entomopathogenic bacteria for biological control of lepidopteran pests

Anaïs Castagnola, S Patricia Stock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


This review focuses on common insecticidal virulence factors from entomopathogenic bacteria with special emphasis on two insect pathogenic bacteria Photorhabdus (Proteobacteria: Enterobacteriaceae) and Bacillus (Firmicutes: Bacillaceae). Insect pathogenic bacteria of diverse taxonomic groups and phylogenetic origin have been shown to have striking similarities in the virulence factors they produce. It has been suggested that the detection of phage elements surrounding toxin genes, horizontal and lateral gene transfer events, and plasmid shuffling occurrences may be some of the reasons that virulence factor genes have so many analogs throughout the bacterial kingdom. Comparison of virulence factors of Photorhabdus, and Bacillus, two bacteria with dissimilar life styles opens the possibility of re-examining newly discovered toxins for novel tissue targets. For example, nematodes residing in the hemolymph may release bacteria with virulence factors targeting neurons or neuromuscular junctions. The first section of this review focuses on toxins and their context in agriculture. The second describes the mode of action of toxins from common entomopathogens and the third draws comparisons between Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. The fourth section reviews the implications of the nervous system in biocontrol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-166
Number of pages28
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014



  • Bacillus thuringiensis
  • Cry
  • Mcf
  • Neurobiology
  • Photorhabdus
  • Tc
  • Toxins
  • Virulence factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science

Cite this