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Mining rare and ubiquitous toxin genes from a large collection of Bacillus thuringiensis strains

Li, Ying, Shu, Changlong, Zhang, Xuewen, Crickmore, Neil, Liang, Gemei, Jiang, Xingfu, Liu, Rongmei, Song, Fuping, Zhang, Jie
Journal of invertebrate pathology 2014 v.122 pp. 6-9
Bacillus thuringiensis, DNA, biochemical pathways, genes, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, polymerase chain reaction, sequence homology, toxicity, toxins
There has been considerable effort made in recent years for research groups and other organizations to build up large collections of strains of Bacillus thuringiensis in the search for genes encoding novel insecticidal toxins, or encoding novel metabolic pathways. Whilst next generation sequencing allows the detailed genetic characterization of a bacterial strain with relative ease it is still not practicable for large strain collections. In this work we assess the practicability of mining a mixture of genomic DNA from a two thousand strain collection for particular genes. Using PCR the collection was screened for both a rare (cry15) toxin gene as well as a more commonly found gene (vip3A). The method was successful in identifying both a cry15 gene and multiple examples of the vip3A gene family including a novel member of this family (vip3Aj). A number of variants of vip3Ag were cloned and expressed, and differences in toxicity observed despite extremely high sequence similarity.