Diminishing returns from increased percent Bt cotton: the case of pink bollworm.
ABSTRACT: Regional suppression of pests by transgenic crops producing insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has been reported in several cropping systems, but little is known about the functional relationship between the ultimate pest population density and the pervasiveness of Bt crops. Here we address this issue by analyzing 16 years of field data on pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) population density and percentage of Bt cotton in the Yangtze River Valley of China. In this region, the percentage of cotton hectares planted with Bt cotton increased from 9% in 2000 to 94% in 2009 and 2010. We find that as the percent Bt cotton increased over the years, the cross-year growth rate of pink bollworm from the last generation of one year to the first generation of the next year decreased. However, as the percent Bt cotton increased, the within-year growth rate of pink bollworm from the first to last generation of the same year increased, with a slope approximately opposite to that of the cross-year rates. As a result, we did not find a statistically significant decline in the annual growth rate of pink bollworm as the percent Bt cotton increased over time. Consistent with the data, our modeling analyses predict that the regional average density of pink bollworm declines as the percent Bt cotton increases, but the higher the percent Bt cotton, the slower the decline in pest density. Specifically, we find that 95% Bt cotton is predicted to cause only 3% more reduction in larval density than 80% Bt cotton. The results here suggest that density dependence can act against the decline in pest density and diminish the net effects of Bt cotton on suppression of pink bollworm in the study region. The findings call for more studies of the interactions between pest density-dependence and Bt crops.
Project description:Transgenic crops producing insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) kill some key insect pests, but evolution of resistance by pests can reduce their efficacy. The main approach for delaying pest adaptation to Bt crops uses non-Bt host plants as "refuges" to increase survival of susceptible pests. To delay evolution of pest resistance to transgenic cotton producing Bt toxin Cry1Ac, the United States and some other countries have required refuges of non-Bt cotton, while farmers in China have relied on "natural" refuges of non-Bt host plants other than cotton. The "natural" refuge strategy focuses on cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera), the primary target of Bt cotton in China that attacks many crops, but it does not apply to another major pest, pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), which feeds almost entirely on cotton in China. Here we report data showing field-evolved resistance to Cry1Ac by pink bollworm in the Yangtze River Valley of China. Laboratory bioassay data from 51 field-derived strains show that the susceptibility to Cry1Ac was significantly lower during 2008 to 2010 than 2005 to 2007. The percentage of field populations yielding one or more survivors at a diagnostic concentration of Cry1Ac increased from 0% in 2005-2007 to 56% in 2008-2010. However, the median survival at the diagnostic concentration was only 1.6% from 2008 to 2010 and failure of Bt cotton to control pink bollworm has not been reported in China. The early detection of resistance reported here may promote proactive countermeasures, such as a switch to transgenic cotton producing toxins distinct from Cry1A toxins, increased planting of non-Bt cotton, and integration of other management tactics together with Bt cotton.
Project description:Transgenic crops producing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) proteins kill key insect pests, providing economic and environmental benefits. However, the evolution of pest resistance threatens the continued success of such Bt crops. To delay or counter resistance, transgenic plant "pyramids" producing two or more Bt proteins that kill the same pest have been adopted extensively. Field populations of the pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) in the United States have remained susceptible to Bt toxins Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab, but field-evolved practical resistance to Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac has occurred widely in India. Here we used two rounds of laboratory selection to achieve 18,000- to 150,000-fold resistance to Cry2Ab in pink bollworm. Inheritance of resistance to Cry2Ab was recessive, autosomal, conferred primarily by one locus, and independent of Cry1Ac resistance. We created a strain with high resistance to both toxins by crossing the Cry2Ab-resistant strain with a Cry1Ac-resistant strain, followed by one selection with Cry2Ab. This multi-toxin resistant strain survived on field-collected Bt cotton bolls producing both toxins. The results here demonstrate the risk of evolution of resistance to pyramided Bt plants, particularly when toxins are deployed sequentially and refuges are scarce, as seen with Bt cotton and pink bollworm in India.
Project description:Evolution of pest resistance threatens the benefits of crops genetically engineered to produce insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Field populations of the pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), a global pest of cotton, have evolved practical resistance to transgenic cotton producing Bt toxin Cry2Ab in India, but not in the United States. Previous results show that recessive mutations disrupting an autosomal ATP-binding cassette gene (PgABCA2) are associated with pink bollworm resistance to Cry2Ab in field-selected populations from India and in one lab-selected strain from the United States (Bt4-R2). Here we discovered that an independently derived, lab-selected Cry2Ab-resistant pink bollworm strain from the United States (BX-R) also harbors mutations that disrupt PgABCA2. Premature stop codons introduced by mis-splicing of PgABCA2 pre-mRNA were prevalent in field-selected larvae from India and in both lab-selected strains. The most common mutation in field-selected larvae from India was also detected in both lab-selected strains. Results from interstrain crosses indicate BX-R has at least one additional mechanism of resistance to Cry2Ab that does not involve PgABCA2 and is not completely recessive or autosomal. We conclude that recessive mutations disrupting PgABCA2 are the primary, but not the only, mechanism of resistance to Cry2Ab in pink bollworm.
Project description:Genetically engineered cotton and corn plants producing insecticidal Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins kill some key insect pests. Yet, evolution of resistance by pests threatens long-term insect control by these transgenic Bt crops. We compared the genetic basis of resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac in two independently derived, laboratory-selected strains of a major cotton pest, the pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella [Saunders]). The Arizona pooled resistant strain (AZP-R) was started with pink bollworm from 10 field populations and selected with Cry1Ac in diet. The Bt4R resistant strain was started with a long-term susceptible laboratory strain and selected first with Bt cotton bolls and later with Cry1Ac in diet. Previous work showed that AZP-R had three recessive mutations (r1, r2, and r3) in the pink bollworm cadherin gene (PgCad1) linked with resistance to Cry1Ac and Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac. Here we report that inheritance of resistance to a diagnostic concentration of Cry1Ac was recessive in Bt4R. In interstrain complementation tests for allelism, F(1) progeny from crosses between AZP-R and Bt4R were resistant to Cry1Ac, indicating a shared resistance locus in the two strains. Molecular analysis of the Bt4R cadherin gene identified a novel 15-bp deletion (r4) predicted to cause the loss of five amino acids upstream of the Cry1Ac-binding region of the cadherin protein. Four recessive mutations in PgCad1 are now implicated in resistance in five different strains, showing that mutations in cadherin are the primary mechanism of resistance to Cry1Ac in laboratory-selected strains of pink bollworm from Arizona.
Project description:Evolution of resistance by pests reduces the benefits of transgenic crops that produce insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Here we analyzed resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac in a field-derived strain of pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), a global pest of cotton. We discovered that the r14 allele of the pink bollworm cadherin gene (PgCad1) has a 234-bp insertion in exon 12 encoding a mutant PgCad1 protein that lacks 36 amino acids in cadherin repeat 5 (CR5). A strain homozygous for this allele had 237-fold resistance to Cry1Ac, 1.8-fold cross-resistance to Cry2Ab, and developed from neonate to adult on Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac. Inheritance of resistance to Cry1Ac was recessive and tightly linked with r14. PgCad1 transcript abundance in midgut tissues did not differ between resistant and susceptible larvae. Toxicity of Cry1Ac to transformed insect cells was lower for cells expressing r14 than for cells expressing wild-type PgCad1. Wild-type PgCad1 was transported to the cell membrane, whereas PgCad1 produced by r14 was not. In larval midgut tissue, PgCad1 protein occurred primarily on the brush border membrane only in susceptible larvae. The results imply r14 mediates pink bollworm resistance to Cry1Ac by reduced translation, increased degradation, and/or mislocalization of cadherin.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The pink bollworm Pectinophora gossypiella (Saunders) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is one of the world's most important pests of cotton. Insecticide sprays and transgenic cotton producing toxins of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are currently used to manage this pest. Bt toxins kill susceptible insects by specifically binding to and destroying midgut cells, but they are not toxic to most other organisms. Pink bollworm is useful as a model for understanding insect responses to Bt toxins, yet advances in understanding at the molecular level have been limited because basic genomic information is lacking for this cosmopolitan pest. Here, we have sequenced, de novo assembled and annotated a comprehensive larval midgut transcriptome from a susceptible strain of pink bollworm. FINDINGS:A de novo transcriptome assembly for the midgut of P. gossypiella was generated containing 46,458 transcripts (average length of 770 bp) derived from 39,874 unigenes. The size of the transcriptome is similar to published midgut transcriptomes of other Lepidoptera and includes up to 91 % annotated contigs. The dataset is publicly available in NCBI and GigaDB as a resource for researchers. CONCLUSIONS:Foundational knowledge of protein-coding genes from the pink bollworm midgut is critical for understanding how this important insect pest functions. The transcriptome data presented here represent the first large-scale molecular resource for this species, and may be used for deciphering relevant midgut proteins critical for xenobiotic detoxification, nutrient digestion and allocation, as well as for the discovery of protein receptors important for Bt intoxication.
Project description:Evolution of resistance by insect pests can reduce the benefits of insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that are used extensively in sprays and transgenic crops. Despite considerable knowledge of the genes conferring insect resistance to Bt toxins in laboratory-selected strains and in field populations exposed to Bt sprays, understanding of the genetic basis of field-evolved resistance to Bt crops remains limited. In particular, previous work has not identified the genes conferring resistance in any cases where field-evolved resistance has reduced the efficacy of a Bt crop. Here we report that mutations in a gene encoding a cadherin protein that binds Bt toxin Cry1Ac are associated with field-evolved resistance of pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) in India to Cry1Ac produced by transgenic cotton. We conducted laboratory bioassays that confirmed previously reported resistance to Cry1Ac in pink bollworm from the state of Gujarat, where Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac has been grown extensively. Analysis of DNA from 436 pink bollworm from seven populations in India detected none of the four cadherin resistance alleles previously reported to be linked with resistance to Cry1Ac in laboratory-selected strains of pink bollworm from Arizona. However, DNA sequencing of pink bollworm derived from resistant and susceptible field populations in India revealed eight novel, severely disrupted cadherin alleles associated with resistance to Cry1Ac. For these eight alleles, analysis of complementary DNA (cDNA) revealed a total of 19 transcript isoforms, each containing a premature stop codon, a deletion of at least 99 base pairs, or both. Seven of the eight disrupted alleles each produced two or more different transcript isoforms, which implicates alternative splicing of messenger RNA (mRNA). This represents the first example of alternative splicing associated with field-evolved resistance that reduced the efficacy of a Bt crop.
Project description:Evolution of resistance by pests is the main threat to long-term insect control by transgenic crops that produce Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins. Because inheritance of resistance to the Bt toxins in transgenic crops is typically recessive, DNA-based screening for resistance alleles in heterozygotes is potentially much more efficient than detection of resistant homozygotes with bioassays. Such screening, however, requires knowledge of the resistance alleles in field populations of pests that are associated with survival on Bt crops. Here we report that field populations of pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), a major cotton pest, harbored three mutant alleles of a cadherin-encoding gene linked with resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac and survival on transgenic Bt cotton. Each of the three resistance alleles has a deletion expected to eliminate at least eight amino acids upstream of the putative toxin-binding region of the cadherin protein. Larvae with two resistance alleles in any combination were resistant, whereas those with one or none were susceptible to Cry1Ac. Together with previous evidence, the results reported here identify the cadherin gene as a leading target for DNA-based screening of resistance to Bt crops in lepidopteran pests.
Project description:Transgenic crops producing insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are cultivated extensively, but rapid evolution of resistance by pests reduces their efficacy. We report a 3,370-bp insertion in a cadherin gene associated with resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac in the pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), a devastating global cotton pest. We found the allele (r15) harboring this insertion in a field population from China. The insertion is a miniature inverted repeat transposable element (MITE) that contains two additional transposons and produces two mis-spliced transcript variants (r15A and r15B). A strain homozygous for r15 had 290-fold resistance to Cry1Ac, little or no cross-resistance to Cry2Ab, and completed its life cycle on Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac. Inheritance of resistance was recessive and tightly linked with r15. For transformed insect cells, susceptibility to Cry1Ac was greater for cells producing the wild-type cadherin than for cells producing the r15 mutant proteins. Recombinant cadherin protein occurred on the cell surface in cells transformed with the wild-type or r15A sequences, but not in cells transformed with the r15B sequence. The similar resistance of pink bollworm to Cry1Ac in laboratory- and field-selected insects from China, India and the U.S. provides a basis for developing international resistance management practices.
Project description:Extensive cultivation of crops genetically engineered to produce insecticidal proteins from the bacterium <i>Bacillus thuringiensis</i> (Bt) has suppressed some major pests, reduced insecticide sprays, enhanced pest control by natural enemies, and increased grower profits. However, these benefits are being eroded by evolution of resistance in pests. We report a strategy for combating resistance by crossing transgenic Bt plants with conventional non-Bt plants and then crossing the resulting first-generation (F<sub>1</sub>) hybrid progeny and sowing the second-generation (F<sub>2</sub>) seeds. This strategy yields a random mixture within fields of three-quarters of plants that produce Bt toxin and one-quarter that does not. We hypothesized that the non-Bt plants in this mixture promote survival of susceptible insects, thereby delaying evolution of resistance. To test this hypothesis, we compared predictions from computer modeling with data monitoring pink bollworm (<i>Pectinophora gossypiella</i>) resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac produced by transgenic cotton in an 11-y study at 17 field sites in six provinces of China. The frequency of resistant individuals in the field increased before this strategy was widely deployed and then declined after its widespread adoption boosted the percentage of non-Bt cotton plants in the region. The correspondence between the predicted and observed outcomes implies that this strategy countered evolution of resistance. Despite the increased percentage of non-Bt cotton, suppression of pink bollworm was sustained. Unlike other resistance management tactics that require regulatory intervention, growers adopted this strategy voluntarily, apparently because of advantages that may include better performance as well as lower costs for seeds and insecticides.