Aedes albopictus transmits several arboviral infections. In the absence of vaccines, control of mosquito populations is the only strategy to prevent vector-borne diseases. As part of the search for novel, biological and environmentally friendly strategies for vector control, the isolation of new bacterial species with mosquitocidal activity represents a promising approach. However, new bacterial isolates may be difficult to grow and genetically manipulate. To overcome these limits, here we set up a system allowing the expression of mosquitocidal bacterial toxins in the well-known genetic background of Bacillus subtilis. As a proof of this concept, the ability of B. subtilis to express individual or combinations of toxins of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) was studied. Different expression systems in which toxin gene expression was driven by IPTG-inducible, auto-inducible or toxin gene-specific promoters were developed. The larvicidal activity of the resulting B. subtilis strains against second-instar Ae. albopictus larvae allowed studying the activity of individual toxins or the synergistic interaction among Cry and Cyt toxins. The expression systems here presented lay the foundation for a better improved system to be used in the future to characterize the larvicidal activity of toxin genes from new environmental isolates.
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