The anthelmintic effect of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry5B on Haemonchus contortus in sheep
Widespread anthelmintic resistance in trichostrongyle nematodes of ruminants has created an urgent need for alternatives to commercial anthelmintics. The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can produce crystal proteins during sporulation, which can be lethal to insects in multiple orders when ingested. One protein, Cry5B, has demonstrated effectiveness against multiple parasitic nematodes. We hypothesized that Cry5B would be effective against Haemonchus contortus, a highly pathogenic parasite, in sheep. Two experiments tested efficacy of Cry5B in sheep experimentally infected with H. contortus. In the first, a live genetically modified, asporogenous strain of B. thuringiensis expressing cytosolic Cry5B protein (BaCC) was administered orally daily for four days (~40mg/kg Cry5B/day). The mean fecal egg count (FEC) of treated animals was reduced by 94% three days after treatment, and at necropsy the female worm burden was significantly reduced by 98%. In the second experiment inactivated, asporogenous Bt expressing cytosolic Cry5B (IBaCC) was used. Treated animals received 60mg/kg Cry5B, administered daily for three days. By 72 hours after the first treatment FEC was reduced by 91%. Mean total worm burden of treated sheep at necropsy was significantly reduced, with female worms reduced by 95%. A third study tested the effect of BaCC and IBaCC on development of eggs to infective larvae in feces under laboratory and outdoor environmental conditions. Cry5B (15mg) added to feces (10g) reduced numbers of infective larvae by 99% in both environments within 12 days. Cry5B appears to have potential for controlling H. contortus in sheep. All protocols approved by VT IACUC and IBC.