Title:
AGENTS AND METHOD FOR IDENTIFYING INSECTS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides an isolated immunoreactive molecule (IRM) capable of binding to a target molecule from at least one species or sub-species of the insect but not to at least one other species or sub-species of insect and a method of identifying one or more insect species or subspecies and kits therefor. The invention is particularly useful for distinguishing between Lepidopterans such as Helicoverpa aemigera and H. punctigera, and H. zea and Heliothis virescens.



Inventors:
Trowell, Stephen C. (OXLEY, AU)
Garsia, Kim A. (VRIARRA, AU)
Hill, Amanda S. (COOK, AU)
Lang, Gabriele Annerose (WEILHEIM, DE)
Skerritt, John H. (COOK, AU)
Application Number:
08/691584
Publication Date:
07/19/2001
Filing Date:
08/02/1996
Assignee:
TROWELL STEPHEN C.
GARSIA KIM A.
HILL AMANDA S.
LANG GABRIELE ANNEROSE
SKERRITT JOHN H.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
435/4
International Classes:
C07K16/18; C07K16/28; G01N33/68; (IPC1-7): G01N33/567; C12Q1/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
MINNIFIELD, NITA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FLEHR HOHBACH TEST ALBRITTON & HERBERT (FOUR EMBARCADERO CENTER SUITE 3400, SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 941114187, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An isolated antibody (Ab) which specifically binds to a target protein present in both eggs and larvae, or in all life stages, of at least one species or sub-species of insect but not present in at least one other species or sub-species of insect.

2. The Ab of claim 1 wherein said target protein is lipophorin.

3. The Ab of claim 1 which is a monoclonal antibody (mAb).

4. The Ab of claim 1 which specifically binds to a target protein of one species or sub-species of Lepidoptera.

5. The Ab of claim 1 which specifically binds to a target protein of at least one species or sub-species of Helicoverpa or Heliothis but not at least one other species or sub-species of Helicoverpa or Heliothis.

6. The Ab of claim 1 which specifically binds to a target protein of Helicoverpa armigera not Helicoverpa punctigera, or specifically binds to a target protein of Helicoverpa punctigera not Helicoverpa armigera.

7. The Ab of claim 1 which is mAb 70.5 (ECACC No. 93012101).

8. The Ab of claim 1 which specifically binds to a target protein of Helicoverpa zea but not Heliothis virescens, or specifically binds to a target protein of Heliothis virescens not Helicoverpa zea.

9. The Ab of claim 1, wherein said Ab is labelled with a reporter.

10. The Ab of claim 9 wherein said reporter is horseradish peroxidase, glucose oxidase, β-galactosidase, alkaline phosphatase, colloidal gold, latex microbeads or erythrocytes.

11. A method of identifying one or more species or sub-species of insect by determining the reactivity of an Ab to a target protein present in both eggs and larvae, or in all life stages, of at least one species or sub-species of insect, but substantially not present in at least one other species or sub-species of insect, said method comprising contacting a sample of insect material with an effective amount of Ab which specifically binds to said target protein of the one or more species or sub-species of insect for a time and under conditions sufficient for a complex to form between the Ab and the target protein, and then subjecting said complex to a detecting means.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein said one or more species or sub-species is a Lepidopteran.

13. The method of claim 11 wherein said Ab specifically binds lipophorin.

14. The method of claim 11 wherein said Ab specifically binds to a target protein of Helicoverpa armigera not Helicoverpa punctigera, or specifically binds to a target protein of Helicoverpa punctigera not Helicoverpa armigera.

15. The method of claim 11 wherein said Ab specifically binds to a target protein of Helicoverpa zea not Heliothis virescens, or specifically binds to a target protein of Heliothis virescens not Helicoverpa zea.

16. The method of claim 11 wherein said Ab is labelled with a reporter.

17. The method of claim 16 wherein said reporter is horseradish peroxidase, glucose oxidase, β-galactosidase, alkaline phosphatase, colloidal gold, latex microbeads or erythrocytes.

18. A kit for distinguishing between or identifying one or more species or sub-species of insect from at least one other species or sub-species of insect, said kit comprising in compartmentalised form a first compartment adapted to receive an Ab which specifically binds to a target protein present on both eggs and larvae, or in all life stages, of at least one species or sub-species of insect but not present in at least one other species or sub-species of insect, at least one other compartment adapted to contain a detector means and a support onto which a sample of insect material can be placed.

19. The kit of claim 18 wherein said one or more species or sub-species is a Lepidopteran.

20. The kit of claim 18 wherein said Ab is conjugated to a reporter.

21. The kit of claim 18 wherein said kit is capable of distinguishing between Helicoverpa armigera and Helicoverpa punctigera.

22. The kit of claim 18 wherein said Ab comprises mAb 70.5 (ECACC No. 93012101).

23. The kit of claim 18 wherein said kit is capable of distinguishing between Helicoverpa zea and Heliothis virescens.

24. The kit of claim 18 wherein said support comprises a membrane; said Ab comprises mAb 70.5 (ECACC No. 93012101) conjugated with horseradish peroxidase, alkaline phosphatase or β-galactosidase; said further kit comprising an enzyme substrate and appropriate buffers.

25. The kit of claim 18 further comprising a purified preparation of a lipophorin or an apolipophorin II or an apolipophorin I from at least one of the species or sub-species of insect to be distinguished or identified, as a positive control.

26. The Ab of claim 1 which specifically binds to a target protein present in at least one species or sub-species of insect from a taxonomic family but not present in at least one other species or sub-species of insect from the same taxonomic family.

27. The Ab of claim 26 wherein said target protein is lipophorin.

28. The Ab of claim 1 which specifically binds to a target protein present in at least one species or sub-species of insect but not present in at least one other species or sub-species of insect wherein said other species or sub-species is congeneric to the first species or sub-species.

29. The method of claim 11 wherein said one or more species and said other species are from the same taxonomic family.

30. The method of claim 11 wherein said one or more species and said other species are congeneric.

31. The kit of claim 18 wherein said one or more insect species and said other insect species are from the same taxonomic family.

32. The kit of claim 18 wherein said one or more insect species and said other insect species are congeneric.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is a Continuation-in-Part of U.S. Ser. No. 08/186,767 filed Jan. 25, 1994.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates generally to an immunologically reactive molecule (IRM) capable of binding to a target molecule from at least one species of insect but not from at least one other species of insect. The present invention also contemplates a method of distinguishing between, or identifying, one or more insect species or subspecies.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Insect damage to crops is a significant factor in decreasing crop yield and considerable effort is expended annually in controlling insect populations to minimise or prevent crop damage. Although chemical insecticides have played an important role in controlling insect populations, increasing resistance to these insecticides and environmental concerns have rendered the use of chemical insecticides less appealing.

[0004] Resistance Management Strategies (RMS's) have been developed in order to minimize insecticide resistance and usually involve the administration of more than one insecticide. However, such strategies are significantly more expensive, are time consuming and do not address the environmental concerns.

[0005] The insect genera Heliothis and Helicoverpa comprise economically important pests which attack a range of crops including cotton, tobacco, maize, sorghum, sunflower, soybean, chick peas and other pulses, rapeseed, canola, ground nuts, lucerne and many horticultural crops such as cut flowers and tomatoes and other vegetables (Fitt, 1989).

[0006] Helicoverpa (Heliothis) armigera and Helicoverpa (Heliothis) punctigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) (hereinafter referred to as H. armigera and H. punctigera) cause crop damage which is economically significant to agricultural industry. Whilst H. punctigera is the more abundant species in Australia, H. armigera is considered the more problematic of the two because it has a history of developing resistance to the chemical insecticides which have been used in its control (Fitt, 1989). Helicoverpa punctigera, however, does not appear to have the same propensity for developing resistance to insecticides.

[0007] Heliothis virescens and Helicoverpa zea (hereinafter referred to as H. zea) are important pests of crops throughout North America and especially crops in the U.S.A. Whilst both species have developed resistance to some insecticides, (Fitt, 1989) they are distinguished by the fact that Heliothis virescens may display up to 150 fold resistance to synthetic pyrethroids whereas H. zea shows no detectable resistance to these compounds (Elzen et al., 1992). Synthetic pyrethroids are therefore more efficacious for control of H. zea than for Heliothis virescens.

[0008] Heliothis virescens is congeneric with Heliothis (Neocleptria) punctifera whereas H. zea is congeneric with Heliocoverpa armigera and Helicoverpa punctigera.

[0009] Resistance Management Strategies developed for H. armigera and H. punctigera have involved a rotation of pyrethroids, endosulfan and other insecticides to reduce exposure to endosulfan and pyrethroids. This has been necessary due to the increasing resistance to synthetic pyrethroids and endosulfan. Despite these RMS's, the frequency of resistant individuals has been steadily increasing (Forrester, 1990).

[0010] Helicoverpa armigera and H. punctigera at their egg and neonate stages are morphologically indistinguishable, whilst their respective larvae can only be distinguished by experts. A similar situation exists for Heliothis virescens and H. zea. Current RMS therefore make assumptions based on historical records of the relative abundance of the two species, averaged over wide geographical distances and several seasons. These assumptions necessarily entail some degree of inaccuracy, the consequence of which is that, in some cases, expensive alternative insecticides may be applied to H. punctigera, whilst in other cases, there may be multiple applications of pyrethroids to populations of H. armigera. In the latter case, the pyrethroid applications may be ineffective and will generally encourage the emergence of insecticide resistance. Similar problems also arise with Heliothis virescens and H. zea. Such situations may lead to unnecessarily expensive insect control for farmers. For example, insecticides such as pyrethroids which are adequate for species without a propensity to develop resistance are comparatively cheap insecticides. These may cost the farmer 3 or 4 times less to apply than those insecticides which are applied to insect species with a tendency to develop insecticide resistance. There is a need, therefore, to develop a convenient method to determine the species composition of egg lays, neonates or older larva which may have survived an insecticide application in the field. Such a method would be particularly useful for routine use by crop growers/farmers, agronomists and/or agricultural scientists so that insecticide applications can then be tailored to the composition of the Heliothis or Helicoverpa population actually present.

[0011] In work leading up to the present invention, the present inventors have found an immunologically reactive molecule (IRM) that distinguishes between insect species or subspecies. The IRM is capable of binding to a target molecule in at least one species or subspecies but does not react with at least one other species or subspecies. This provides a basis for distinguishing between or identifying insect species or subspecies.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0012] Accordingly, one aspect of the invention relates to an immunologically reactive molecule (IRM) capable of binding to a target molecule from at least one species or subspecies of insect but not to at least one other species or subspecies of insect. The target molecule is an antigen which is present in insect tissues. These tissues may be those of eggs, neonates or older larvae.

[0013] Another aspect of the present invention contemplates a method of identifying one or more species or subspecies of insect by determining the reactivity of an IRM to a target molecule in a sample of insect material, wherein said IRM is capable of binding to the target molecule present in at least one of said species or subspecies but substantially not to any molecule of at least one other species or subspecies of insect. More particularly, the method comprises contacting a sample of insect material with an effective amount of an IRM specific for said target molecule of the one or more species or subspecies of insect for a time and under conditions sufficient for a complex to form between the target molecule and IRM, and then subjecting said complex to a detecting means.

[0014] Another aspect of the present invention relates to a kit for distinguishing between or identifying one or more insect species or subspecies from at least one other insect species or subspecies, said kit comprising in compartmentalised form a first compartment adapted to receive an IRM capable of binding to a target molecule of at least one species or subspecies of insect but not at least one other species or subspecies of insect and at least one other compartment adapted to contain a detector means.

[0015] In another aspect the instant invention relates to an isolated or purified preparation of a target molecule as herein described specific for a particular insect species or subspecies, to mutants and derivatives thereof and to the antigenic determinants of the target molecule.

[0016] In another aspect of the invention there is provided a method for making antibodies, particularly monoclonal antibodies, to said antigenic determinants for use in a method of detecting particular insect species. Antibodies can be made by standard techniques such as immunizing animals with insect extracts from said at least one species or subspecies and collecting the serum, identifying antibodies from said serum which are capable of binding at least one species or subspecies but not at least one other species or subspecies (Campbell (1984), Goding (1983) and Harlow and Lane (1988)).

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0017] The present invention is predicated in part on the surprising discovery that different species or subspecies of insects that are morphologically indistinguishable for at least a part of their life cycles can be differentiated by an IRM which is capable of binding a target molecule present in one species or subspecies but is not capable of binding a molecule in one other species or subspecies.

[0018] Accordingly, one aspect of the invention relates to an IRM capable of binding to a target molecule from at least one species or subspecies of insect but not to at least one other species or subspecies of insect. The target molecule is an antigen which is present in insect tissues. These tissues may be those of eggs, neonates or older larvae. Preferably the target molecule is present in older larvae and neonates, more preferably the target molecule is present in eggs, still more preferably it is present in eggs and neonates. Even more preferably the target molecule is present in eggs, neonates and older larvae. Most preferably the target molecule is abundantly present in all life stages of the insect, including the egg, neonate and older larval stages. In one aspect of the invention the target molecule is lipophorin, a protein which is present in insects at all stages during their life cycles.

[0019] The term “subspecies” used herein refers to different strains, varieties, serotypes, subserotypes and/or other categories/ groups/strains/varieties of insects within one species, genus or order. Although specific Lepidoptera are mentioned herein the invention covers Lepidoptera generally and other insect groups.

[0020] Preferably the IRM is in isolated form meaning it is in a state different to that found in nature. Advantageously, the isolated IRM is biologically pure meaning that a composition comprises, at least 20%, preferably at least 30% more preferably at least 40-50%, still more preferably at least 60-75%, and more preferably at least 85-95% of IRM as determined by weight, activity, immunological reactivity or other convenient means.

[0021] The IRM is preferably an antibody and advantageously a monoclonal antibody (mAb). The term “antibody” includes naturally occurring antibodies, recombinant antibodies, synthetic antibodies including fusions or chimers of antibodies and fragments of any of the foregoing such as Fab and F(ab′)2. Where the antibody IRM is a recombinant form, the molecule may be encoded by a naturally occurring or synthetic nucleotide sequence and expressed in any convenient expression system. Where the molecule is synthetic, it is conveniently prepared by the step-wise addition of single amino acid groups or amino acid fragments of, for example antibodies. With regard to the latter, the synthetic antibody may be a fusion or chimeric antibody comprising light or heavy chains derived from other antibodies.

[0022] Antibodies and other IRM's of the present invention may be of any animal origin including mammals such as humans, live stock animals, companion animals, wild animals and laboratory test animals (eg. mice, rats, rabbits and guinea pigs). An “animal” also extends to non-mammalian species such as birds (eg. chickens and other poultry, emus and ostriches).

[0023] The IRM may be labelled with a reporter providing, under suitable conditions, a detectable signal. Such reporters may include molecules such as radio-nucleotides, chemiluminescent molecules, bioluminescent molecules, fluorescent molecules or enzymes amongst others. Commonly used enzymes include horseradish peroxidase, glucose oxidase, β-galactosidase and alkaline phosphatase, amongst others. Alternatively the reporter may consist of particles including colloidal gold, latex microbeads or erythrocytes amongst others. In a further alternative the reporter may comprise a physical detector means such as biosensors, for example surface plasmon resonance.

[0024] Although not intending to limit the present invention to any one theory or proposed mode of action, the basis of the differential reactivity of the immunologically reactive molecules may be due to differences in antigenic determinants on the molecule for which they are specific. This could be due to changes or alterations in protein, carbohydrate or lipid molecules or combinations thereof, or to conformational changes, whether or not resulting therefrom. Thus in the case of lipophorin, in one embodiment of the invention, the IRM is reactive with the lipophorin of H. armigera but not the lipophorin of H. punctigera.

[0025] In a preferred aspect of the present invention the IRM is capable of binding a target molecule of at least one species or subspecies of Helicoverpa or Heliothis but not at least one other species or subspecies of Helicoverpa or Heliothis. Preferably the IRM is an antibody capable of binding to a target molecule of H. armigera not H. punctigera. Alternatively, preferably the IRM is capable of binding a target molecule of H.zea but not Heliothis virescens. Preferably, the target molecule for which the IRM is specific is an antigen present in egg or neonate tissues.

[0026] In its most preferred form, the present invention provides monoclonal antibodies mAb 70.5 and mAb 70.7 which bind H. armigera not H. punctigera. A hybridoma producing mAb 70.5 was deposited on Jan. 21, 1993 at the European Collection of Animal Cell Cultures, Public Health Laboratory Service, Porton Down, Salisbury, U.K. and given accession number 93012101.

[0027] In another most preferred form, the present invention provides monoclonal antibody mAb 21.91.2 which binds H. zea, H. armigera, or H. punctigera and not to Heliothis virescens or Heliothis (Neocleptria) punctifera.

[0028] Another aspect of the present invention contemplates a method of identifying one or more species or subspecies of insect by determining the reactivity of an IRM to a target molecule which may be present in a sample of insect material, wherein said IRM is capable of binding to a target molecule present in at least one of said species or subspecies but substantially not to any molecule of at least one other species or subspecies. More particularly, the method comprises contacting a sample of insect material with an effective amount of an IRM specific to said target molecule of the one or more species or subspecies of insect for a time and under conditions sufficient for a complex to form between the target molecule and IRM, and then subjecting said complex to a detecting means.

[0029] The term “a sample of insect material” used herein means a sample of insect dervied from any life stage, or part of an insect, such as the eggs, larval or adult stages.

[0030] Preferably, IRM is an antibody as defined above, and is most preferably a mAb. Most preferably, the antibody is specific for a target molecule of H. armigera not H. punctigera. Alternatively most preferably the antibody is specific for a target molecule of H. zea not Heliothis virescens. Still more preferably the antibody is specific for an antigen present in egg or neonate tissues. Most preferably the IRM is specific for lipophorin of H. armigera not H. punctigera. Suitable antibodies include mAb 70.5 and 70.7. Alternatively the IRM is specific for a target molecule present in H. zea not H. virescens. Suitable antibodies include mAb 21.91.2.

[0031] Detection of binding of the IRM to the target molecule can be determined by any convenient means. Preferably, the target molecule is detected by an IRM which is labelled directly by a reporter as herein described, such as by a reporter enzyme, or by reporter particles such as colloidal gold or by physical means such as biosensors. Alternatively, the presence of antigen-antibody complex may be detected by an anti-immunoglobulin labelled with a label, reporter or other detector molecule capable of providing a detectable signal. In this embodiment, the anti-immunoglobulin binds to the bound target molecule reactive antibody and then the label, reporter or detector molecule is read. Suitable reporters are as hereinbefore described.

[0032] The target molecule containing sample is preferably in the form of eggs or larvae but may be from later life stages of the insect. The sample may be contacted with, preferably squashed onto any conventional material such as a polymer or glass, the most commonly used polymers being cellulose (including paper) nitrocellulose, polyacrylamide, nylon, polystyrene, polyvinylchloride, polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) or polypropylene.

[0033] The immunologically reactive molecule of the present invention may also be bound to a solid support such as those listed above.

[0034] Another aspect of the present invention relates to a kit for distinguishing between, or identifying, one or more insect species or subspecies from at least one other insect species or subspecies, said kit comprising in compartmentalised form a first compartment adapted to receive an IRM capable of binding to a target molecule of at least one species or subspecies of insect but substantially not at least one other species or subspecies of insect, and at least one other compartment adapted to contain a detector means. In a preferred form, the IRM is bound to a support as herein before described, more preferably a solid support. Most preferably the solid support comprises sheet material such as a membrane.

[0035] Preferably the kit comprises an IRM reactive with H. armigera not H. punctigera. Most preferably the kit comprises mAb 70.5 or mAb 70.7.

[0036] The detection means preferably comprises a reporter or label as described herein which can detect the binding of the IRM to the target molecule.

[0037] In one preferred aspect, the kit comprises a mAb specific for the target molecule directly conjugated with a detectable reporter such as an enzyme, and where appropriate enzyme substrate and suitable buffers. In a more preferred aspect the kit comprises mAb 70.5 or 70.7 conjugated with horseradish peroxidase, alkaline phosphatase or β-galactosidase, enzyme substrate and appropriate buffers.

[0038] In another preferred aspect the kit comprises an anti-immunoglobulin which binds the antibody-target molecule complex. The anti-immunoglobulin is labelled with a label, reporter or other detector as herein described capable of providing a detectable signal.

[0039] In another aspect the instant invention relates to an isolated or purified preparation of a target molecule as herein described specific for a particular insect species or subspecies, to mutants and derivatives thereof and to the antigenic determinants of the target molecule. The antigenic determinants of the instant invention may comprise the amino acid/polypeptide, lipid and/or polysaccharide portion of the target molecule. Such mutants and derivatives of the target molecule or the antigenic determinants thereof may be produced by natural chemical and/or recombinant means.

[0040] The term “mutant” used herein refers to a variant of apolipophorin which while different from native apolipophorin retains substantially the same biological or immunological characteristics of apolipophorin. The term “derivative” used herein refers to a molecule derived from apolipophorin which while different from native apolipophorin retains substantially the same biological or immunological characteristics as apolipophorin.

[0041] In a most preferred embodiment the invention relates to a purified preparation of lipophorin, the 70 kDa apolipophorin II and 230 kDa apolipophorin I subunits of lipophorin from H. armigera, H. punctigera, H. zea or Heliothis virescens and to mutants and derivatives thereof.

[0042] In another aspect of the invention there is provided a method for making antibodies, particularly monoclonal antibodies, to said antigenic determinants for use in a method of detecting particular insect species. Antibodies can be made by standard techniques such as immunizing animals with insect extracts from said at least one species or subspecies and collecting the serum, identifying antibodies from said serum which are capable of binding at least one species or subspecies but not at least one other species or subspecies (Campbell (1984), Goding (1983) and Harlow and Lane (1988)). Alternatively the antibodies can be made by isolating immune cells from animals which have been immunised with insect extracts and fusing the immune cells with immortalising cells to produce immortalised cells and identifying antibodies from the immortalised cells which are capable of binding to a molecule from at least one species or subspecies of insect but not to at least one other species or subspecies of insect. Similarly monoclonal antibodies can be made by in vitro immunisation which involves taking immune cells from an animal, which animal may or may have been immunised with an insect extract, exposing the cells so removed to the insect extract and fusing the cells with an immortalising cell line as described above. The immortalising cells may be screened in the manner described above. As stated above mAbs can be made according to standard techniques including that described below.

[0043] The present invention is further described by reference to the following non-limiting figures at Example.

[0044] In the Figures:

[0045] FIG. 1: is a photographic representation of an immunoblot testing specificity of mAbs for H. armigera.

[0046] FIG. 2: is a photographic representation of an immunoblot testing specificity of mAb 70.5 against subunits of H. armigera and H. punctigera lipophorin.

[0047] FIG. 3: depicts titrations of mAb-HRP conjugate.

[0048] FIG. 4: depicts ELISA tests of mAb 21.91.2 with egg homogenates.

[0049] FIG. 5: is a photographic representation of an immunoblot testing mAb 21.91.2.

[0050] FIG. 6a): is a diagrammatic representation of a kit solid support holder.

[0051] FIG. 6b): depicts a membrane printed with guide markings.

[0052] FIG. 7: Test results (where the red material indicates H. armigera).

EXAMPLE 1

[0053] 1. Materials & Methods

[0054] Helicoverpa Culture

[0055] The AN strain of H. armigera and the PUNC strain of H. punctigera were used for all immunisations and preliminary screening. Colonies were cultured in the laboratory on artificial diet (Teakle, 1985).

[0056] Antigen Preparation

[0057] Whole eggs or larvae of each species were snap frozen and stored at −80° C. Tissue was thawed into 10-20 volumes of ice-cold phosphate buffered saline containing 5 mM PMSF, 5 mM EDTA, 0.1 μgmL−1 pepstatin and a few crystals of phenylthiourea, and disrupted with a motor-driven teflon in glass homogeniser. The homogenate was filtered through glass wool and then centrifuged at 240,000 g for 45 min. The supernatant was concentrated to 3 mgml−1 in normal saline using a centricon 10 (Amicon) concentrator and the pellet was resuspended in 1 mL saline. Both were frozen prior to use for immunisation or screening.

[0058] Haemolymph was collected from fifth instar larvae by snipping off a proleg and collecting the exudate into an equal volume of ice-cold phosphate buffered saline containing 10 mM PMSF, 10 mM EDTA, 0.2 μgmL−1 pepstatin 20 μM E64, 10 mM 1,10 phenanthroline, 20 mM thioglycerol and a few crystals of phenylthiourea.

[0059] To fractionate Helicoverpa proteins, whole eggs were homogenised, separated in a discontinuous SDS-PAGE system (Laemmli, 1970) and electroblotted to a nitrocellulose membrane. The membrane was stained with Coomassie Blue R-250. Major proteins and intervening regions were excised, ground up and stored for use an immunogen.

[0060] To obtain pure proteins for immunisation, haemolymph from 5th instar larvae was separated by native PAGE, blotted to nitrocellulose and bands which were unique to one or other species were prepared for use as antigen, as described above.

[0061] Immunisation

[0062] Primary immunisations were performed s.c. and comprised a 1:2 mixture of antigen in saline with Freund's complete adjuvant. Subsequent immunisations were generally performed i.p. at 4 week intervals with a 1:2 mixture of antigen with Freund's incomplete adjuvant. After 4 immunisations, mice were rested until serum titre was close to control values. Selected mice were given intra-peritoneal booster injections with antigen in saline on the four successive days prior to performing the fusion.

[0063] Fusions

[0064] Fusions of immune spleen cells to SP2O or Ag8 cells were performed according to standard procedures (Harlow and Lane 1988) and hybridomas were selected with hypoxanthine (13.6 μgmL−1) and azaserine (1 μgmL−1). Hybridomas were initially grown in medium supplemented with 20% foetal bovine serum (FBS)+2% horse serum which was reduced to 10% FBS when cells were growing strongly in a 24 well plate. Fusions were routinely plated into 10-20 96 well plates.

[0065] Screening

[0066] As soon as colonies were visible macroscopically, supernatants were screened by indirect ELISA using Nunc Immunoplate II microplates. For preliminary screens, plates were coated with a mixture of total H. armigera and H. punctigera homogenate at a ratio of 62.5 μg of eggs/well, equivalent to approximately 1 egg per well. Positives were detected using a two step, second antibody-biotin, streptavidin-horseradish peroxidase (Amersham), system.

[0067] To identify differential responders, positive clones were re-screened separately against H. armigera and H. punctigera. Isotyping of monoclonals was performed using Amersham's mouse monoclonal isotyping kit.

[0068] Medium-Scale Production and Purification of Antibodies

[0069] Clones 70.5 and 70.7 were grown in 175 cm2 flasks using standard RPMI medium with 1% (v/v) foetal bovine serum, Nutridoma SR (Boehringer-Mannheim) or Monomed A (CSL). The combined supernatants (approximately 4.5 liters of 70.5 and 4 l of 70.7) were harvested by centrifugation and concentrated 10 to 20 fold over a Millipore PTTK membrane with nominal 30 kDa cut off. Antibodies were precipitated with 50% (w/v) ammonium sulphate, resuspended in 20 mM sodium phosphate buffer, pH 7 and dialysed extensively against the same buffer. The sample was filtered and loaded onto a 5 mL protein G column (Hitrap, Pharmacia), which was washed with 20 mM sodium phosphate buffer and eluted with 0.1 M glycine-HCl pH 2.7. Antibody containing fractions were adjusted to pH 7-7.5 by the addition of 0.1M TrisHCl pH 9.0.

[0070] Antibody Conjugation

[0071] Antibody conjugation was performed using the periodate coupling method, essentially according to Polak and Kristek (1988). However, dialysis, rather than gel filtration, was used to remove low molecular weight contaminants, following the conjugation reaction. Conjugated antibody was used without further purification.

[0072] Concentrations of purified antibody were estimated by Abs280 nm using the relationship: 1[Ig]=Abs280 nm1.4

[0073] Conjugate concentrations were estimated on the assumption that [conjugate](mg/mL)=Abs280 nm.

[0074] 2. Results

[0075] Immunologically Reactive Molecules

[0076] Generation of Monoclonal Antibodies

[0077] A total of 135 mice were immunised with Helicoverpa proteins. Seventy one mice received crude antigens prepared from a single species. Twenty two mice were immunised with broad molecular weight cuts of the proteins from a single species separated by SDS-PAGE and 6 mice were immunised with individual, species-specific, bands purified from haemolymph using non-denaturing PAGE. Thirty six mice were immunised with antigens from one species, followed by a treatment with cyclophosphamide and then antigens from the second species. Further details of antigen sources are provided in Table I.

[0078] Thirty-four mice were selected for fusions. Fusions performed from mice with high serum titre typically yielded one or more growing colonies in 30-100% of wells. All discriminating antibodies were obtained from fusions relying on immunisations of crude soluble antigen. The serum titre of mice receiving purified antigens remained low after four immunisations and fusions performed with them yielded few positive secretors and no discriminating antibodies. The aim of the cyclophosphamide treatment is to eliminate the immune response to antigens that are common to both species (Matthew and Patterson 1983; Lewis et al 1987). The mice were immunised with a highly diverse mixture of antigens. It was found that a single cycle of immunisation followed by cyclophosphamide treatment (40 mg/kg, i.v. or i.p. on three successive days) did not significantly depress the serum titre measured after a second immunisation. In order to remove the immune response to the first species it was necessary to repeat the cyclophosphamide treatment after a second boost with antigen. This treatment succeeded in suppressing the immune response to the first species but no significant difference in the response could be elicited following subsequent immunisations with antigens of the second species. Fusions performed with spleens from these mice yielded few colonies and no differential responders. Three primary clones which strongly discriminated amongst Australian heliothines were subcloned and stable subclones were selected for further investigation. Subclones 70.5.31.11 and 70.7.88.1 recognised H. armigera but displayed no significant reaction against H. punctigera (FIG. 1). For brevity these two subclones are referred to below as 70.5 and 70.7. Subclone 21.91.2 recognised H. armigera, H. punctigera and H. zea but did not recognise Heliothis (Neocleptria) punctifera, or Heliothis virescens.

[0079] Characterisation of Monoclonals

[0080] Isotype

[0081] MAbs 70.5 and 70.7 were both of the IgG1 subclass with κ-light chains.

[0082] Species- and Stage-Specificity

[0083] Preliminary ELISA tests showed that mAbs 70.5 and 70.7 reacted against an egg homogenate of H. armigera but not H. punctigera. As shown in FIG. 1, the discrimination between H. armigera and H. punctigera was also observed in a squash immunoblot format and extended to all life-stages (older larvae, pupae and adults not shown).

[0084] Strain-Specificity

[0085] A number of distinct strains of H. armigera and H. punctigera were tested in order to determine whether the specificity reflected an antigen diagnostic for the two species or was limited to a particular population of either species. As shown in Table II, H. armigera from all sources, including morphologically defined H. armigera specimens from India and China gave a positive signal, whilst H. punctigera never reacted positively.

[0086] Identity and Distribution of Antigen

[0087] An immunoaffinity column was prepared by coupling approximately 5 mg of purified mAb 70.7 to 1 mL of cyanogen-bromide activated Sepharose according to the manufacturers instructions. The Sepharose column was used to perform an immunoaffinity purification from diluted 5th instar H. armigera haemolymph. SDS-PAGE analysis revealed that two polypeptide bands with Mr of ≈70,000 and ≈200,000 were specifically enriched from whole haemolymph. However an immunoblot of a parallel gel revealed that only the 70 kDa protein was recognised by the monoclonal.

[0088] It was concluded that mAb 70.7 recognised the small subunit of a relatively abundant haemolymph protein comprising two polypeptide subunits of ≈70 and ≈230 kDa. Other data, showed that mAb 70.5 also reacted specifically against 70 kDa protein present in haemolymph and eggs. Subunit molecular weights of 230-250 kDa and 70-85 kDa are characteristic of the lipophorin class of insect proteins (Beenakkers et al 1988). These data are therefore consistent with both monoclonals recognising apolipophorin II a subunit of “lipophorin” the major insect lipid transport and storage protein.

[0089] In order to test this hypothesis lipophorin was purified from the haemolymph of 5th instars of both species using flotation on a KBr density gradient. The buoyant densities of the lipophorins from both species were approximately 1.17 to 1.18 g/ml as determined by refractometry. This is consistent with their classification as high density lipophorins (HDLp) (Beenakkers et al 1988). As shown in FIG. 2, mAbs 70.5 and 70.7 both recognised the 70 kDa subunit of H. armigera lipophorin but there was no reaction against the purified protein from H. punctigera.

[0090] An immunofluorescence survey of whole teased neonate larvae was performed and analysed using the laser confocal microscope. Diffuse staining was observed throughout the abdomen with concentrations of fluorescence in the posterior of the abdomen and in the thorax. The former staining appeared to be coating the convolutions of the malpighian tubules whilst the thoracic immunofluorescence was associated with an unidentified folded or involuted structure. No intracellular staining was observed.

[0091] Lipophorin is known to be synthesised in the larval fat body of Lepidoptera and exported into the haemolymph. Lipophorin is also laid down in the eggs of lepidopterans during vitellogenesis. These tissues were examined for immunoreactivity by SDS-PAGE and immunoblotting using mAb 70.5. Control tissues, body wall, including muscle and epidermis, and H. punctigera eggs showed no immunoreactivity. The 70 kDa band was prominent in the lanes containing H. armigera haemolymph and eggs. In the haemolymph lane there was evidence of some partial proteolysis giving rise to a minor immunoreactive band of lower molecular weight. The particulate fraction of fat body showed a prominent immunoreactive band at approximately 120 kDa but there was no immunoreactivity at 70 kDa nor indeed in the soluble fraction of that tissue. These data, are consistent with the known distribution and biochemistry of lipophorin.

[0092] Quantity of Lipophorin in Helicoverpa Eggs and Haemolymph

[0093] Eggs of H. armigera and H. punctigera both contained 68 mg soluble protein/g of eggs as measured by a modification of the Lowry assay (Lowry et al., 1951; Markwell et al., 1978; Wessel & Flügge 1984). There were no previous estimates of the composition of eggs of H. armigera or H. punctigera, however data obtained in the sphingid M. sexta indicates that lipophorin represents approximately 4.2% of soluble egg protein, and 1.3% of total egg weight (Kawooya and Law, 1988). For a Helicoverpa egg with a mean weight of 62.5 μg this would predict 0.2-0.8 μg of lipophorin per egg.

[0094] Similarly, most studies of lepidopteran haemolymph deal with pupal or adult haemolymph and there is no published data dealing specifically with the concentration of lipophorin in the larval haemolymph of any heliothine moth. We estimated the protein concentration of fifth instar H. armigera haemolymph as 6.55±1.5 mg/mL. We can obtain some indication of the likely concentration of lipophorin from early work on the lipoproteins found in pupal haemolymph of Hyalophora cecropia (Thomas and Gilbert, 1968) which indicates that concentration of lipophorin is approximately 1.2 mgmL−1. This would represent approximately 5-10% of total haemolymph protein, which is generally compatible with values reported for larval or nymphal forms in other orders (Engelmann et al., 1988).

[0095] Construction and Testing of a Direct Conjugate

[0096] Fifty-six milligrams of mAb 70.5 and 43 mg of mAb 70.7 were purified from 4.5 liters and 4 liters of their respective culture supernatants. Similar amounts of mAb 70.5 have been purified from murine ascites fluid (approximately 2 mg/ml) and this mAb has also been conjugated as described below.

[0097] In order to develop a test for field use a direct conjugate of HRP to each of the monoclonals was produced. Equal weights of HRP (Cat. no. 814, Boehringer Mannheim) and antibody, i.e. an approximate ratio of 4 moles HRP per mole antibody, were coupled by the method of (Polak and Kristek 1988). Analysis of conjugation mixtures that had been purified over Sephacryl S300 indicated that over 65% of the haem groups were incorporated into material having an HRP to antibody coupling ratio of between 3.5 and 5.5.

[0098] Thirty-three mg of a conjugate of 70.5 and 60 mg of a conjugate of 70.7 were combined to give a total of 55.5 mL of a homogeneous batch suitable for laboratory and wide-scale field testing. The concentration of the conjugate was estimated at 1.68 mgml−1. It was stored at 4° C. in Tris buffered saline at pH 7.5 with 2% BSA and 0.02% thimerosal added to enhance stability.

[0099] Titrations of the antibody (FIG. 3) indicated that good performance was achieved using an overall working dilution of {fraction (1/200)}to {fraction (1/400)}(i.e. approx. 4.2 μgml−1).

[0100] This was however modified to a working dilution of {fraction (1/40)} (approx. 42 μg/mL) to increase the speed of the reaction without loss of specificity. In this case conjugate was diluted in 1% (w/v) teleostan gelatine, 2M NaCl, 20 mM TrisHCl pH 7.4, 0.01% (w/v) thiomersal.

[0101] Field Test Kit

[0102] One test is based on a membrane squash principle. Statistical considerations indicated that 50 samples per test would offer a reasonably certain estimate of the percentage H. armigera whilst being practical to collect and test, however kits which accommodate up to 100 samples at a time can be used. The test kit comprises a reusable membrane holder, the membrane itself (optionally with printing thereon) and the solutions used to develop an H. armigera-specific reaction.

[0103] The membrane holder is constructed with an aluminium base-plate 16.5 cm×11.5 cm×2.5 mm. A polycarbonate sheet, 1 mm thick perforated by fifty 12.5 mm diameter holes, is placed over the base plate. The polycarbonate sheet is held in place by a length of plastic book spine, of the sort available from stationers, and a ring clip, which allows easy pivoting of the assembly. The membrane holder is shown in FIG. 6.

[0104] To use the kit, a supported nitrocellulose membrane (Amersham Hybond-C Super) is cut to 16.5 cm×10.5 cm and fitted between the base-plate and the perspex template. Alternatively a Sartorius membrane may be used since this appears to have good handling properties. Optionally a membrane with printed guide markings (as shown in FIG. 6b)) can be fitted instead. The membrane is secured in the cassette by a small bulldog clip. A positive control is provided in the upper right hand corner of the membrane. This comprises a 1 μl spot of a preparation of H. armigera haemolymph diluted to give a signal of comparable-strength to a single egg of H. armigera collected in the field. The overall dilution factors used were in the range {fraction (1/60)}to {fraction (1/120)}. In order to prevent contamination with leaf and larval peroxidases, membranes are pretreated for one hour in 5% BSA, followed by one hour in 5% BSA plus 5% diploma skimmed milk. Membranes were rinsed in 0.02% (w/v) thimerosal, dried and stored with desiccant at 4° C. prior to use.

[0105] In one embodiment of the kit, block solution was provided as 25 mL of 5% (w/v) teleostan gelatin in 2M NaCl, 0.01% (w/v) thiomersal per membrane. Antibody was provided as 25 mL of mAb-HRP concentrate per four membranes. Wash solution was provided as 50 mL per membrane of a concentrate (5M NaCl, 100 mM Tris HCl pH 7.4, 0.5% (w/v) Tween 20, 0.01% (w/v) thiomersal) which was diluted to 250 mL with tap water to use. Substrate was provided as two solutions, 20 mL per membrane of 0.0125% (w/v) urea hydrogen peroxide in 20 mM Tris HCl pH 7.4 and 10 drops (200 μl) per membrane of 30 mg/mL of 4-chloronaphthol in absolute ethanol, which were mixed on the membrane immediately prior to use. In this instance a published version of a single component HRP substrate was found to be unstable, (Brand 1990), furthermore it was found that the red precipitate produced by 3-AEC provided a distinct contrast with chlorophyll stains and is preferable to tetramethylbenzidine for this reason. It was subsequently found that 4-chloronaphthol in a pH 7.0-7.5 buffer gave lower background interference during colour development, and being purple was also clearly distinguishable from chlorophyll staining.

[0106] Kit Use

[0107] Eggs and small larvae are squashed directly onto the membrane using the leaves that bear them until each of the 50 holes contain a squashed individual. After squashing the samples, the membrane was removed from the holder and stored, dry, until development. It was found that antigen could be detected immediately after squashing and remained recognisable after overnight incubation of the membrane at 60° C. or after incubation for six weeks at 37° C. Longer storage times were not tested. If the membrane was stored wet the potential to detect the antigen was rapidly lost even at 0 to 4° C.

[0108] One development procedure involves blocking the membrane for 1 minute, incubating the conjugate with the membrane for 5 minutes, three rinses with wash buffer over a period of 2 minutes, followed by incubation with substrate/colour developer for 30-60 seconds and a rinse in tap water to stop the reaction. Table III lists the steps involved in performing the test and FIG. 7 shows the results of a test performed under laboratory conditions.

EXAMPLE 2

[0109] 1. Materials and Methods

[0110] Monoclonal antibody 21.91.2 was raised as described above. Australian Heliothinae were reared in the laboratory using standard procedures as described above. American Lepidoptera were provided as frozen eggs by Dr. Matthew Greenstone USDA.

[0111] Species-specificity was determined using ELISA tests and immunoblots. Antigens were prepared so as to apply one egg equivalent per test well or test spot.

[0112] Preparation of Antigen

[0113] For ELISA screening, approximately 6.25 mg of snap frozen eggs were thawed into each mL of coating buffer (0.1M sodium carbonate/bicarbonate pH 9.6) containing 0.5% (w/v) Tween 20 and homogenised using teflon in glass or glass on glass tissue grinders. The homogenates were clarified by centrifugation for 3 minutes at 14,000 g and 4° C. and diluted 10 fold in coating buffer without Tween 20. Wells were coated with 100 μL of the clarified homogenate at 4° C. overnight.

[0114] For dot blot screening, snap frozen eggs were thawed into homogenisation buffer (ice-cold phosphate buffered saline containing 5 mM PMSF, 5 mM EDTA, 0.1 μgmL−1 pepstatin and a few crystals of phenylthiourea) at a ratio of 62.5 mg per mL and homogenised using teflon in glass or glass on glass grinders. The homogenate was centrifuged for 3 minutes at 14,000 g and 4° C. and 1 μL aliquots were spotted directly onto the membrane and allowed to dry.

[0115] ELISA for Testing Discrimination of Australian Heliothinae

[0116] Supernatants were screened by indirect ELISA using Nunc Immunoplate II microplates. Plates were coated with total egg protein homogenates from the following species: Helicoverpa armigera or Helicoverpa punctigera or Heliothis (Neocleptria) punctifera at a ratio of 62.5 μg of eggs/well, equivalent to 1 egg per well (Personal communication J. Fisk). The wells were blocked with a 1% (w/v) solution of skimmed milk powder and incubated with the mAb 21.91.2 supernatant. Positives were detected using a two step, second antibody-biotin, streptavidin-horseradish peroxidase, system (Amersham).

[0117] Immunoblots for Testing Discrimination of American Lepidoptera and Titrating Antigen

[0118] 1 μL aliquots of egg homogenate, equivalent to 1 egg, were spotted onto Hybond C Super or Hybond C Extra strengthened nitrocellulose (Amersham) and allowed to dry. To titrate egg antigens versus mAb 21.91.2, a series of doubling dilutions of the egg homogenates were performed in homogenisation buffer. One μl aliquots of the diluted homogenates were spotted onto the nitrocellulose membrane and allowed to dry, so as to give spots equivalent to ¼, ⅛, {fraction (1/16)}etc. of an egg. The membrane was blocked with a 5% (w/v) solution of skimmed milk powder and incubated with the mAb supernatants. Positives were detected using a two step, second antibody-biotin, streptavidin-horseradish peroxidase, system (Amersham).

[0119] 2. Results and Discussion

[0120] MAb 21.91.2 was shown to recognise an egg antigen of Helicoverpa armigera and Helicoverpa punctigera but not of Heliothis (Neocleptria) punctifera (FIG. 4). On the basis of this discrimination, mAb 21.91.2 was selected for testing on American Lepidoptera (FIG. 5). The antibody recognised the positive control, H. armigera and also H. zea but not Heliothis virescens, Trichoplusia ni, Anticarsia gemmatalis nor Spodoptera frugiperda.

[0121] A second batch of supernatant from 21.91.2 was tested and, in this experiment, the immunoreactivity appears to be dependent on the concentration of egg proteins (FIG. 1b). The best discrimination was observed with dilutions of H. armigera and Heliothis virescens egg proteins of {fraction (1/32)}or {fraction (1/64)}.

[0122] Table I

[0123] Sources of antigens used for immunisation program. Table indicates number of mice immunised for each source 1

EggsLarvaeAdult
SolPartSolPartSolPartTotals
Crude antigens:
− cyclophosphamide 18*425184271
+ cyclophosphamide13 7104236
Size-fractionated antigen2222
from whole eggs
Individual haemolymph6 6
bands from 5th instar larvae
135
Approximately equal numbers of mice received antigens from each Helicoverpa sp. Fusions were performed using spleens from 34 of the best responding mice

[0124] 2

TABLE II
Specificity of mAbs tested on individuals
from various strains and field locations
Recognition of individual eggs and neonates
by mAbs using an immunoblot
mAbmAb
70.5.33.1170.7.88.1
Species/strainOriginEggsLarvaeEggsLarvae
H. armigera
ANLab Strain++++
ANVNamoi Valley+n.d.++
AMFONamoi Valleyn.d.++
SUPEREmerald++++
Field-caughtNamoi/Gwdir++n.d.n.d.
Field-caughtICRISAT & other,n.d.+n.d.n.d.
India
Field-caughtLiaoCheng, Chinan.d.+n.d.n.d.
H. punctigera
PUNCLab Strain
PNVNamoi Valleyn.d.
Field-caughtNamoi/Gwydirn.d.n.d.
Field-caughtBirdsville
“Lab Strains” have been maintained in Canberra for several years
n.d. = not done

[0125] Table III

[0126] Field test kit procedure used for trials in January/February 3

Incubation
StepProceduretimeComments
1Squash eggs and/or
larvae
2Add block solution1 minDiscard used block solution
(25 mL)
3Add mAb conjugate5 minAt the end of the incubation
solution (25 mL)pour conjugate solution
back into bottle and re-use
up to 4 times.
During this incubation
prepare wash solution by
diluting concentrate 5 fold
with tap water
4Rinse 3 times (250 mL)2 min
5Add substrate (20 mL)≦1 min Incubate until control is
and 10 drops of colourclearly visible or for 1 min,
developerwhichever is shorter
6Rinse and score≈1 min 
To save time, 2 or 3 membranes can be processed in parallel by a single operator.

EXAMPLE 3

[0127] This Example presents additional data which demonstrates that in accordance with the present invention monoclonal antibodies can be made which recognise the lipophorin of Heliothis virescens not Helicoverpa zea and also monoclonal antibodies which recognise Helicoverpa zea not Heliothis virescens. This Example demonstrates, not only the applicability of species-discrimination using anti-lipophorin antibodies to these additional two species, but indeed the generality of the method for discriminating any pair of insect species containing lipophorin.

[0128] 1. Materials and Methods

[0129] Mice were immunised up to four times with purified lipophorin. Individual mice receive the same doses on each occasion.

[0130] Mouse z73 was immunised subcutaneously with 250 μg of Helicoverpa zea lipophorin in the presence of Freund's complete adjuvant. The mouse was boosted i.p. on three subsequent occasions using 250 μg of Helicoverpa zea lipophorin with Freund's incomplete adjuvant. The mouse was rested, boosted i.p. with 250 μm of Helicoverpa zea lipophorin (no adjuvant) on three successive days and killed for fusion. The spleen was dissected and hybridomas were prepared according to standard procedures.

[0131] Mouse v23 was immunised according to the same protocol as mouse z73 except that the source of the purified lipophorin was Heliothis virescens and the dose was 50 μg on each occasion.

[0132] Mouse v30 was immunised according to the same protocol as mouse z73 except that the source of the purified lipophorin was Heliothis virescens and the adjuvant used was AdjuPrime™ (Pierce Chemical Company) used according to the supplier's instructions.

[0133] Fusions were plated and maintained on twenty 96 well plates according to standard procedures. Primary ELISA screening of supernatants was preformed against total egg proteins (ie. containing lipophorin) of the immunising species. Positive clones were rescreened separately against total egg proteins of Helicoverpa zea and Heliothis virescens to identify clones which responded differentially.

[0134] For ELISAs wells were coated with 100 μl of a 1 mgmL−1 solution of egg proteins. The plates were washed three times and blocked with 2% Diploma skim milk. The blocking solution was removed and hybridoma supernatants were added to the plate which was then incubated for 1 hour at 37° C. The supernatants were removed, the plates were washed three times and incubated with anti-mouse antibody (Dako #P161, 1:2000 dilution in TBS+1% Blotto) for 1 hour at 37° C. The plates were washed three times and substrate was added (ABTS 0.55 mgmL−1; 0.002% (w/v) H2O2 in phosphate citrate buffer pH 4.3). ELISA results were expressed as the Abs405 nm after 30 mins incubation at 37° C.

[0135] 2. Results

[0136] Immune Titres

[0137] Mouse z73 reached a serum response of 2.31 at a titre of {fraction (1/1000)}after primary immunisation and two boosts. It was rested for 75 days before final boosting and fusion.

[0138] Mouse v23 reached a serum response of 1.61 at a titre of {fraction (1/1000)}after primary immunisation and three boosts. It was rested for 95 days before final boosting and fusion.

[0139] Mouse v30 reached a serum response of 2.81 at a titre of {fraction (1/1000)}after primary immunisation and three boosts. It was rested for 120 days before final boosting and fusion.

[0140] Fusions & Hybridomas

[0141] Table IV. Summary of results of fusions performed with mice immunised against lipophorins. 4

No. of
No. ofNo. ofNo. ofdiscriminating
spleengrowingpositivesantibodies in
Mousecells fusedhybridomasin first screensecond screen
z73  5 × 10751208234
v234.5 × 1073264222
v30  1 × 1082400252

[0142] The criterion used to determine “discrimination” was an ELISA response to one species that was 2× higher than the response to the other species. Some antibodies performed much better than this.

[0143] Table V shows the results obtained when all 82 positives from fusion z73 were screened for differential responders. The responses are compared with a control consisting of antibody 70.5.33.11 prepared and tested under identical conditions, but against antigen prepared from Helicoverpa armiger eggs.

[0144] Table V. Responses of individual zea-positive hybridomas in a differential screen

[0145] +Denotes response to Ha. zea≧2× response to H. virescens

[0146] * Denotes response to Ha. zea≧3× response to H. virescens and response to H. virescens at or below background level 5

CloneResponse vsResponse vsResponse vsDiscriminating
numberH. virescensHa. zeaHa. armigeraabs
z73.010.3801.149not tested+
z73.021.5161.630not tested
z73.031.1651.389not tested
z73.040.0401.668not tested*
z73.051.0111.304not tested
z73.060.3330.945not tested+
z73.071.1221.933not tested
z73.080.3940.784not tested
z73.091.4801.713not tested
z73.100.3180.294not tested
z73.110.6891.346not tested
z73.120.9721.796not tested
z73.131.0041.706not tested
z73.140.9441.262not tested
z73.150.1381.632not tested+
z73.160.0800.175not tested+
z73.170.1010.265not tested+
z73.181.4081.590not tested
z73.191.1501.896not tested
z73.200.6141.304not tested+
z73.211.4271.632not tested
z73.220.8871.709not tested
z73.230.1331.023not tested
z73.240.0230.181not tested
z73.250.8121.605not tested
z73.260.4200.906not tested+
z73.270.1240.234not tested
z73.280.0971.915not tested*
z73.290.0342.344not tested*
z73.300.6031.180not tested
z73.311.2600.983not tested
z73.320.6520.983not tested
z73.330.0311.186not tested*
z73.340.9031.626not tested
z73.350.2540.380not tested
z73.360.6051.285not tested
z73.370.3680.664not tested
z73.380.7091.067not tested
z73.392.5232.667not tested
z73.400.3711.353not tested+
z73.411.1631.440not tested
z73.420.4271.060not tested+
z73.430.3241.135not tested+
z73.440.1501.592not tested+
z73.450.2720.916not tested
z73.460.7211.206not tested
z73.470.7901.707not tested+
z73.480.1350.525not tested+
z73.490.7111.914not tested+
z73.501.1011.494not tested
z73.510.3541.162not tested+
z73.520.4151.245not tested+
z73.531.1321.456not tested
z73.540.4251.703not tested+
z73.550.4161.468not tested+
z73.560.2600.709not tested+
z73.570.1190.576not tested+
z73.580.1291.699not tested+
z73.590.1560.581not tested+
z73.600.5931.132not tested
z73.610.7211.945not tested+
z73.620.6901.361not tested
z73.630.3720.997not tested+
z73.640.2721.780not tested+
z73.650.4151.178not tested+
z73.660.3341.116not tested
z73.670.5950.959not tested
z73.680.5261.024not tested
z73.690.0310.106not tested
z73.700.3690.811not tested
z73.711.0761.413not tested
z73.721.1731.391not tested
z73.731.3132.351not tested
z73.740.5741.485not tested
z73.750.7691.264not tested
z73.760.840.951not tested
z73.770.1980.307not tested
z73.782.3472.634not tested
z73.790.8561.82not tested
z73.800.3770.522not tested
z73.810.2350.586not tested
z73.820.4550.602not tested
 70.5xnot testednot tested0.4*(armigera vs
punctigera)

[0147] Table VI. shows the results for differential responders from fusions v23 and v30. The responses are compared with a control consisting of antibody 70.5.33.11 prepared and tested under identical conditions, but against antigen prepared from Helicoverpa armigera eggs.

[0148] Table VI. Responses of individual virescens-positive hybridomas in a differential screen.

[0149] + Denotes response to H. virescens≧2× response to Ha. zea

[0150] * Denotes response to H. virescens≧3× response to Ha. zea and response to Ha. zea at or below background level. 6

ResponseResponseResponse
Clonevs H.vsvsDiscriminating
numbervirescensHa. zeaHa. armigeraabs
v23.8.60.360.12not tested*
v23.8.30.320.05not tested*
v30.481.530.75not tested+
v30.590.290.11not tested+
70.5.xnot testednot tested0.4* (armigera vs
punctigera)

[0151] Antibodies z73.28, and z73.29 and v30.48 were tested in immunoblots and all were shown to recognise the apolipophorin I subunit.

[0152] Antibodies z73.28, and z73.29 were tested for isotype using an Isostrip™ (Boehringer-Mannheim) and shown to be of the IgGI subclass with k light chains, i.e. identical isoforms to those of 70.5 and 70.7 antibodies.

[0153] Antibody v30.48 was tested for isotype, using an Isostrip™ (Boehringer-Mannheim) and preliminary results indicated the presence of IgM or possibly IgG2a.

[0154] 3. Discussion

[0155] The results demonstrated here show that generation of antibodies to lipophorin using published methods for lipophorin purification, immunisation and hybridoma production and screening methods disclosed herein will generally lead to antibodies capable of discriminating two congeric or otherwise closely related species of insects on the basis of the differences in their lipophorins.

[0156] Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention described herein is susceptible to variations and modifications other than those specifically described. It is to be understood that the invention includes all such variations and modifications which fall within its spirit and scope. The invention also includes all the steps, features, compositions and compounds referred to or indicated in this specification, individually or collectively, and any and all combinations of any two or more of said steps or features.

LIST OF REFERENCES

[0157] Beenakkers, A. M. T., H. Chino and J. H. Law (1988). “Lipophorin nomenclature.” Insect Biochemistry 18(1): 1-2.

[0158] Brand, J. A., C. W. Tsang, W. Zhou and S. B. Shukla (1990). “Comparison of particulate 3,3′,5,5′-tetramethylbenzidine and 3,3′ diaminobenzidine as chromogenic substrates for immunoblot.” Biotechniques 8(1): 58-60.

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