Dominant resistance to Bt cotton and minor cross-resistance to Bt toxin Cry2Ab in cotton bollworm from China.
ABSTRACT: Evolution of resistance by insect pests threatens the long-term benefits of transgenic crops that produce insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Previous work has detected increases in the frequency of resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac in populations of cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, from northern China where Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac has been grown extensively for more than a decade. Confirming that trend, we report evidence from 2011 showing that the percentage of individuals resistant to a diagnostic concentration of Cry1Ac was significantly higher in two populations from different provinces of northern China (1.4% and 2.3%) compared with previously tested susceptible field populations (0%). We isolated two resistant strains: one from each of the two field-selected populations. Relative to a susceptible strain, the two strains had 460- and 1200-fold resistance to Cry1Ac, respectively. Both strains had dominant resistance to a diagnostic concentration of Cry1Ac in diet and to Bt cotton leaves containing Cry1Ac. Both strains had low, but significant cross-resistance to Cry2Ab (4.2- and 5.9-fold), which is used widely as the second toxin in two-toxin Bt cotton. Compared with resistance in other strains of H. armigera, the resistance in the two strains characterized here may be especially difficult to suppress.
Project description:Transgenic crops producing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins kill some key insect pests, but evolution of resistance by pests can reduce their efficacy. The predominant strategy for delaying pest resistance to Bt crops requires refuges of non-Bt host plants to promote survival of susceptible pests. To delay pest resistance to transgenic cotton producing Bt toxin Cry1Ac, farmers in the United States and Australia planted refuges of non-Bt cotton, while farmers in China have relied on "natural" refuges of non-Bt host plants other than cotton. Here we report data from a 2010 survey showing field-evolved resistance to Cry1Ac of the major target pest, cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera), in northern China. Laboratory bioassay results show that susceptibility to Cry1Ac was significantly lower in 13 field populations from northern China, where Bt cotton has been planted intensively, than in two populations from sites in northwestern China where exposure to Bt cotton has been limited. Susceptibility to Bt toxin Cry2Ab did not differ between northern and northwestern China, demonstrating that resistance to Cry1Ac did not cause cross-resistance to Cry2Ab, and implying that resistance to Cry1Ac in northern China is a specific adaptation caused by exposure to this toxin in Bt cotton. Despite the resistance detected in laboratory bioassays, control failures of Bt cotton have not been reported in China. This early warning may spur proactive countermeasures, including a switch to transgenic cotton producing two or more toxins distinct from Cry1A toxins.
Project description:Non-cotton host plants without Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins can provide refuges that delay resistance to Bt cotton in polyphagous insect pests. It has proven difficult, however, to determine the effective contribution of such refuges and their role in delaying resistance evolution. Here, we used biogeochemical markers to quantify movement of Helicoverpa armigera moths from non-cotton hosts to cotton fields in three agricultural landscapes of the West African cotton belt (Cameroon) where Bt cotton was absent. We show that the contribution of non-cotton hosts as a source of moths was spatially and temporally variable, but at least equivalent to a 7.5% sprayed refuge of non-Bt cotton. Simulation models incorporating H. armigera biological parameters, however, indicate that planting non-Bt cotton refuges may be needed to significantly delay resistance to cotton producing the toxins Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab. Specifically, when the concentration of one toxin (here Cry1Ac) declined seasonally, resistance to Bt cotton often occurred rapidly in simulations where refuges of non-Bt cotton were rare and resistance to Cry2Ab was non-recessive, because resistance was essentially driven by one toxin (here Cry2Ab). The use of biogeochemical markers to quantify insect movement can provide a valuable tool to evaluate the role of non-cotton refuges in delaying the evolution of H. armigera resistance to Bt cotton.
Project description: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.
Project description:Evolution of resistance by insects threatens the continued success of pest control using insecticidal crystal (Cry) proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in sprays and transgenic plants. In this study, laboratory selection with Cry1Ac yielded five strains of cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, with resistance ratios at the median lethal concentration (LC50) of activated Cry1Ac ranging from 22 to 1700. Reduced activity and reduced transcription of an alkaline phosphatase protein that binds Cry1Ac was associated with resistance to Cry1Ac in the four most resistant strains. A Cry1Ac-binding fragment of alkaline phosphatase from H. armigera (HaALP1f) was not toxic by itself, but it increased mortality caused by Cry1Ac in a susceptible strain and in all five resistant strains. Although synergism of Bt toxins against susceptible insects by toxin-binding fragments of cadherin and aminopeptidase N has been reported previously, the results here provide the first evidence of synergism of a Bt toxin by a toxin-binding fragment of alkaline phosphatase. The results here also provide the first evidence of synergism of a Bt toxin by any toxin-binding peptide against resistant insects.
Project description:Transgenic plants producing insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are useful for pest control, but their efficacy is reduced when pests evolve resistance. Here we examined the mechanism of resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac in the laboratory-selected LF5 strain of the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera. This strain had 110-fold resistance to Cry1Ac protoxin and 39-fold resistance to Cry1Ac activated toxin. Evaluation of five trypsin genes revealed 99% reduced transcription of one trypsin gene (HaTryR) was associated with resistance. Silencing of this gene with RNA interference in susceptible larvae increased their survival on diets containing Cry1Ac. Bioassays of progeny from crosses revealed that resistance to Cry1Ac was genetically linked with HaTryR. We identified mutations in the promoter region of HaTryR in the resistant strain. In transfected insect cell lines, transcription was lower when driven by the resistant promoter compared with the susceptible promoter, implicating cis-mediated down-regulation of HaTryR transcription as a mechanism of resistance. The results suggest that H. armigera can adapt to Bt toxin Cry1Ac by decreased expression of trypsin. Because trypsin activation of protoxin is a critical step in toxicity, transgenic plants with activated toxins rather than protoxins might increase the durability of Bt crops.
Project description:Transgenic crops producing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins have been planted widely to control insect pests, yet evolution of resistance by the pests can reduce the benefits of this approach. Recessive mutations in the extracellular domain of toxin-binding cadherin proteins that confer resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac by disrupting toxin binding have been reported previously in three major lepidopteran pests, including the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera. Here we report a novel allele from cotton bollworm with a deletion in the intracellular domain of cadherin that is genetically linked with non-recessive resistance to Cry1Ac. We discovered this allele in each of three field-selected populations we screened from northern China where Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac has been grown intensively. We expressed four types of cadherin alleles in heterologous cell cultures: susceptible, resistant with the intracellular domain mutation, and two complementary chimeric alleles with and without the mutation. Cells transfected with each of the four cadherin alleles bound Cry1Ac and were killed by Cry1Ac. However, relative to cells transfected with either the susceptible allele or the chimeric allele lacking the intracellular domain mutation, cells transfected with the resistant allele or the chimeric allele containing the intracellular domain mutation were less susceptible to Cry1Ac. These results suggest that the intracellular domain of cadherin is involved in post-binding events that affect toxicity of Cry1Ac. This evidence is consistent with the vital role of the intracellular region of cadherin proposed by the cell signaling model of the mode of action of Bt toxins. Considered together with previously reported data, the results suggest that both pore formation and cell signaling pathways contribute to the efficacy of Bt toxins.
Project description:To delay evolution of pest resistance to transgenic crops producing insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), the "pyramid" strategy uses plants that produce two or more toxins that kill the same pest. We conducted laboratory diet experiments with the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, to evaluate cross-resistance and interactions between two toxins in pyramided Bt cotton (Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab). Selection with Cry1Ac for 125 generations produced 1000-fold resistance to Cry1Ac and 6.8-fold cross-resistance to Cry2Ab. Selection with Cry2Ab for 29 generations caused 5.6-fold resistance to Cry2Ab and 61-fold cross-resistance to Cry1Ac. Without exposure to Bt toxins, resistance to both toxins decreased. For each of the four resistant strains examined, 67 to 100% of the combinations of Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab tested yielded higher than expected mortality, reflecting synergism between these two toxins. Results showing minor cross-resistance to Cry2Ab caused by selection with Cry1Ac and synergism between these two toxins against resistant insects suggest that plants producing both toxins could prolong the efficacy of Bt cotton against this pest in China. Including toxins against which no cross-resistance occurs and integrating Bt cotton with other control tactics could also increase the sustainability of management strategies.
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:Evolution of Helicoverpa armigera resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton producing Cry1Ac is progressing in northern China, and replacement of Cry1Ac cotton by pyramided Bt cotton has been considered to counter such resistance. Here, we investigated four of the eight conditions underlying success of the refuge strategy for delaying resistance to Cry1Ac+Cry2Ab cotton, a pyramid that has been used extensively against H. armigera outside China. Laboratory bioassays of a Cry2Ab-selected strain (An2Ab) and a related unselected strain (An) reveal that resistance to Cry2Ab (130-fold) was nearly dominant, autosomally inherited, and controlled by more than one locus. Strong cross-resistance occurred between Cry2Ab and Cry2Aa (81-fold). Weaker cross-resistance (18- to 22-fold) between Cry2Ab and Cry1A toxins was also present and significantly increased survival of An2Ab relative to An on cotton cultivars producing the fusion protein Cry1Ac/Cry1Ab or Cry1Ac. Survival on Cry1Ac+Cry2Ab cotton was also significantly higher in An2Ab than in An, showing that redundant killing on this pyramid was incomplete. Survival on non-Bt cotton did not differ significantly between An2Ab and An, indicating an absence of fitness costs affecting this trait. These results indicate that a switch to three-toxin pyramided cotton could be valuable for increasing durability of Bt cotton in China.
Project description:Evolution of resistance by insect pests reduces the benefits of extensively cultivated transgenic crops that produce insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Previous work showed that resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac, which is produced by transgenic cotton, can be conferred by mutations disrupting a cadherin protein that binds this Bt toxin in the larval midgut. However, the potential for epistatic interactions between the cadherin gene and other genes has received little attention. Here, we report evidence of epistasis conferring resistance to Cry1Ac in the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, one of the world's most devastating crop pests. Resistance to Cry1Ac in strain LF256 originated from a field-captured male and was autosomal, recessive, and 220-fold relative to susceptible strain SCD. We conducted complementation tests for allelism by crossing LF256 with a strain in which resistance to Cry1Ac is conferred by a recessive allele at the cadherin locus HaCad. The resulting F1 offspring were resistant, suggesting that resistance to Cry1Ac in LF256 is also conferred by resistance alleles at this locus. However, the HaCad amino acid sequence in LF256 lacked insertions and deletions, and did not differ consistently between LF256 and a susceptible strain. In addition, most of the cadherin alleles in LF256 were not derived from the field-captured male. Moreover, Cry1Ac resistance was not genetically linked with the HaCad locus in LF256. Furthermore, LF256 and the susceptible strain were similar in levels of HaCad transcript, cadherin protein, and binding of Cry1Ac to cadherin. Overall, the results imply that epistasis between HaCad and an unknown second locus in LF256 yielded the observed resistance in the F1 progeny from the complementation test. The observed epistasis has important implications for interpreting results of the F1 screen used widely to monitor and analyze resistance, as well as the potential to accelerate evolution of resistance.