Transgenic Silkworms And Insect Factories

The National Institute of Sericultural and Entomological Science in Japan created transgenic silkworms with a jellyfish fluorescent protein gene as a marker. Prior to this, there were only a few transgenic insects in the Diptera (e.g., Drosophila, Aedes). This success resulted from development of a microin-jector to introduce DNA into silkworm eggs, and the use of an effective transposon vector. The transgenic silkworms are expected to provide new opportunities for silk production.

A promising use of silkworms outside the clothing industry is in so-called insect factories, where silkworms are used for biological production of peptides or proteins useful for humans. Silkworms are infected with nuclear polyhedrosis virus (one species of baculovirus) to enable them to produce useful substances on a large scale.

See Also the Following Articles

Biotechnology and Insects • Diapause • Ecdysteroids • Lepidoptera • Sericulture • Silk Production

Further Reading

Maeda, S., Kawai, M., Obinata, H., Fujiwara, T., Horiuchi, T., Saeki, T., Sato, Y. and Furusawa, M. (1985). Production of human a-interferon in silkworm using a baculovirus vector. Nature 315, 592—594. Mori, T. (1970). Life cycle of Bombyx mori. In "The Silkworm—New Experimental Tool in Biology" (T. Mori, ed.), In Japanese. Sanseido Press. Tokyo.

Tajima, Y. (1978) "The Silkworm: An Important Laboratory Tool." Kodansha, Tokyo.

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