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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jun 26;109(26):10275-80. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1200156109. Epub 2012 Jun 11.

Diverse genetic basis of field-evolved resistance to Bt cotton in cotton bollworm from China.

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Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Crop Diseases and Pests Ministry of Education, College of Plant Protection, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China.


Evolution of pest resistance reduces the efficacy of insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) used in sprays or in transgenic crops. Although several pests have evolved resistance to Bt crops in the field, information about the genetic basis of field-evolved resistance to Bt crops has been limited. In particular, laboratory-selected resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac based on recessive mutations in a gene encoding a toxin-binding cadherin protein has been identified in three major cotton pests, but previous work has not determined if such mutations are associated with field-selected resistance to Bt cotton. Here we show that the most common resistance alleles in field populations of cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, selected with Bt cotton in northern China, had recessive cadherin mutations, including the deletion mutation identified via laboratory selection. However, unlike all previously studied cadherin resistance alleles, one field-selected cadherin resistance allele conferred nonrecessive resistance. We also detected nonrecessive resistance that was not genetically linked with the cadherin locus. In field-selected populations, recessive cadherin alleles accounted for 75-84% of resistance alleles detected. However, most resistance alleles occurred in heterozygotes and 59-94% of resistant individuals carried at least one nonrecessive resistance allele. The results suggest that resistance management strategies must account for diverse resistance alleles in field-selected populations, including nonrecessive alleles.

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