One of the problems with insecticides is the fact that they not only kill crop-eating insects, but also beneficial species such as bees and butterflies. Additionally, through storm runoff and soil leaching, they make their way into rivers and lakes, causing widespread environmental damage.
The tobacco plant, however, is able to protect itself from insects on its own. It does so by producing a chemical known as cembratrienol (or CBTol for short) in its leaves. Bugs are repelled by the odor of CBTol, and as a result tend to stay away.
Led by Prof. Thomas Brück, a team from the Technical University of Munich isolated the sections of the tobacco plant genome responsible for the formation of CBTol molecules, and then incorporated those into the genome of genetically-modified E. coli bacteria. When fed with wheat bran (obtained as a byproduct from grain mills), those bacteria subsequently produced CBTol.
(For the balance of this article please visit: https://newatlas.com/tobacco-insect-repellent-crops/54962/)