[Coral-List] Bacillus thuringiensis

Thomas Goreau goreau at bestweb.net
Wed Aug 29 12:25:21 EDT 2007

Thanks to all of you for your comments on Bt.

Gene is right, it is sprayed against Mosquitoes on a large scale.

Alina is right it is sold all over the world as a "specific" and  
"safe" control for all sorts of insect pests.

Indeed it has become the centerpiece of the "new" "green"  
"environmentally responsible" integrated pest management (IPM)  
worldwide on grounds that no vertebrates are harmed, and seemingly  
that alone. This is pure vertebrate chauvinism!

However there is nothing specific about it's action, it seems to kill  
practically all invertebrates indiscriminately, the good along with  
the bad, the essential recyclers and pollinators along with the  
pests, and as we now seem to be seeing the marine along with the  

Will Davis' points are also well taken. There are many strains, and I  
don't know if these have been shown to be more specific, but I  
suspect all are very broad-spectrum killers.

  I think the key is that until we found it in dying marine sponges  
and looked at the literature, there seemed to be very little studies  
on the impacts on marine invertebrates, although soil snails and  
nematodes were killed, and as I recall, dragonfly larvae and other  
aquatic insects.

What is clearly needed is to see if Bt is in waters draining oil palm  
plantations and other places where it is used, and specific tests of  
its effects against aquatic and marine invertebrates be carried out.

We also found Pseudomonas in dying sponges almost identical to those  
used in oil palm plantations against fungal rust diseases. We don't  
know how specific this is, so the question is whether fungi that are  
essential in soil and aquatic mineral and nutrient cycling are also  
being affected.

As far as the Pfisteria goes, this a very controversial topic, on  
which Alina's husband is an expert, and I am sure she will add to that.

Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
Global Coral Reef Alliance
37 Pleasant Street, Cambridge MA 02139
goreau at bestweb.net

> Message: 1
> Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 10:09:13 -0400
> From: Gene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
> Subject: [Coral-List] Pal Oil plantation and Bacillus thurigiensis in
> 	sponges
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Message-ID: <a06230966c2f9d91a0e39@[]>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" ; format="flowed"
> Tom, The pathogen, Bacillus thuringiensis,  you identified in dead
> sponges was  cultured and identified in African dust reaching the
> Caribbean in 2003. It is used to control mosquitoes in north Africa.
> Gene
> Atmospheric microbiology in the northern Caribbean during African
> dust events, Aerobiologia 19: 143-157.
> -- 
> No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
> ------------------------------------  
> -----------------------------------
> E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
> University of South Florida
> Marine Science Center (room 204)
> 140 Seventh Avenue South
> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
> <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
> Tel 727 553-1158----------------------------------
> -----------------------------------
> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 14:44:12 -0400
> From: "Szmant, Alina" <szmanta at uncw.edu>
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Pal Oil plantation and Bacillus thurigiensis
> 	in	sponges
> To: "Gene Shinn" <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>,
> 	<coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Message-ID:
> 	<4E15FCC7981F7A4CA5AA0DEF4B2141C90F8DA9FF at UNCWMAILVS2.dcs.uncw.edu>
> Content-Type: text/plain;	charset="us-ascii"
> It's also used to control caterpillars and worms on terrestrial  
> plants.
> I think you can by it at Home Depot.  It's commonly used by organic
> gardeners instead of pesticides on plants like cannas, ginger,  
> hibiscus
> etc.  It is considered to be a specific pathogen for those kids of  
> bugs.
> *******************************************************************
> Dr. Alina M. Szmant
> Coral Reef Research Group
> UNCW-Center for Marine Science
> 5600 Marvin K. Moss Ln
> Wilmington NC 28409
> Tel: (910)962-2362 & Fax:  (910)962-2410
> Cell:  (910)200-3913
> email:  szmanta at uncw.edu
> Web Page:  http://people.uncw.edu/szmanta
> Message: 3
> Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 22:54:27 -0700
> From: Jeremy Kerr <Jeremy_Kerr at csumb.edu>
> Subject: [Coral-List] Mystery Event - Lankayan Island, Sulu Sea,
> 	Sandkan
> To: coral-list at aoml.noaa.gov
> Message-ID: <fc.000f7aeb0e90755c000f7aeb0e90755c.e907925 at csumb.edu>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> According to "Environmental Politics and Policy" by Walter A.  
> Rosenbaum, the microbe Pfiestreia piscicida caused a "sudden,  
> dramatic increase in fish kills between 1991 and 1993 within North  
> Carolina's vast estuaries."  Along with large numbers of
> dead fish, there was a strong smell that burned the eyes and nose,  
> but it was not that of dead fish.  The cause of the deaths was  
> intially assumed due to anoxic water.  However, research found high  
> levels of nitrogen and phosophorus caused a
> population explosion in P piscicida.  The microbe population  
> infected the fish, which lead to the die-off.  A quick web search  
> shows this was not an isolated incident.  After reading the  
> discussion on Coral List regarding the Lankayan Island
> incident, I think a microbe is the most likely suspect in this "who- 
> done-it."
> Jeremy
> -------------------
> Message: 6
> Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 8:41:53 -0500
> From: Will Davis <willp2 at tds.net>
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Bti and the fact sheet
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Message-ID: <20070829084153.9BLAB.264515.root at webfep13>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
>  Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 8:37:32 -0500
>  From: Will Davis <willp2 at tds.net>
>  Subject: Re: Bti
>  Bti   RE: Bacillus thurigiensis israelensis,  strain.....
>  It is informative to read the EPA fact sheet for BTi. that spells  
> out application for mosquito control and the different risks that  
> are reported. It isn?t clear from the fact sheet, however, that  
> different BTi strains may have historically had different  
> applications, i.e. targeted various  insect larvae  (over the  
> decades,  all the way back to ?Japanese beetles). The pesticide  
> gospel says the bacterium multiplies specifically within the gut of  
> the insect and not harmful to other species. Detection in the field  
> (dust, sediments) would be expected. However, culture and growth  
> with in marine organisms is not expected and if it were  
> demonstrated, would be considered a potential ecological risk.
>   BTi  has been considered a successful example among ?bioremedial?  
> pest control agents. They (BMs) are approaches to pest ?management?  
> that  reduces or replaces use of persistent chemicals. There were  
> examples of other proposed bioremedials that didn?t get registered   
> due to side effects upon ?non-target? species.
>  Field detection of presence, per se, in a sponge for instance,  
> does not in  itself demonstrate pathogenicity. Potential induction  
> of pathogenic effects needs to be examined There are folks, even in  
> EPA research labs, who could do this, if management would allow it.
> http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/biopesticides/ingredients/factsheets/ 
> factsheet_006476.htm

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