Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version

October 1986


Published in APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY, Oct. 1986, p. 650-653 Vol. 52, No. 4. Copyright © 1986, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


Vegetative Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis cells (6 x 105/ml) achieved 100% mortality of Aedes aegypti larvae within 24 h. This larvicidal potential was localized within the cells; the cell-free supernatants did not kill mosquito larvae. However, they did contain a heat-labile hemolysin which was immunologically distinct from the general cytolytic (hemolytic) factor released during solubilization of B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis crystals. The larvicidal potential of the vegetative cells was not due to poly-3-hydroxybutyrate. Instead, it correlated with the ability of vegetative cells to sporulate during the bioassays. No toxicity was observed when bioassays were conducted in the presence of chloramphenicol or streptomycin. It is unlikely that the vegetative cells sporulate in the alkaline (pH 9.5 to 10.5) larval guts after ingestion. B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis is not an alkalophile; we have been unable to grow it in culture at pH values of .9.5. Moreover, we have been unable to demonstrate formation of a protective capsule. However, bacteria may replicate in the gut fluids of dead or dying mosquito larvae because their alkaline gut pH values drop markedly after exposure to the B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis crystal toxins.

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