||Boyce Thompson Inst. for Plant Research, Ithaca, NY.;Corvallis Environmental Research Lab., OR.;Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC.;Forest Service, Washington, DC.
Baculoviruses constitute one of the largest and most diverse groups of insect pathogenic viruses. Numerous experimental field trials between 1950 and 1960 demonstrated the usefulness of baculoviruses as viral insecticides; however, with the concurrent advent of numerous synthetic pesticides with broad-spectrum, low cost, and high insecticidal activity, viral insecticides failed to become a commercial success. During the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, it became clear that the overdependence on chemical pesticides for pest control created numerous unacceptable agricultural, environmental, and human-health problems. The paper examines the current status of pesticidal baculoviruses, their genetic improvement, and the field-release testing of modified viruses.