Effect of NaCl-stressed Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton on the feeding behaviors and nutritional parameters of Helicoverpa armigera.
ABSTRACT: Saline-alkali soil is an arable land resource on which transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton has been planted on a large scale in accordance with food security strategies. There are, however, concerns about the insecticidal effects of Bt cotton on target insect pests. In this study, a Bt cotton variety, GK19, and its nontransgenic parent variety, Simian-3, were used as experimental models for investigating the effect of the expression of exogenous insecticidal proteins in Bt cotton under NaCl stress on the feeding behavior and nutritional parameters of Helicoverpa armigera. The results showed that the expression of exogenous insecticidal proteins in GK19 was significantly inhibited under NaCl stress. However, the feeding, crawling, resting and spinning down behavior of the 5th instar H. armigera larvae on GK19 Bt cotton, as well as the amount of food consumed and feces produced by these larvae, did not markedly differ under different NaCl concentrations. In contrast, the mean relative growth rate (MRGR), relative growth rate (RGR), approximate digestibility (AD), efficiency of conversion of ingested food (ECI) and efficiency of conversion of digested food (ECD) of the larvae markedly decreased in response to NaCl stress. Under the same concentration of NaCl, the nutritional parameters of the bollworm larvae on GK19 Bt cotton or Simian-3 nontransgenic cotton were different. However, the interaction between salt stress and cotton variety had no significant effect on the feeding behavior or nutritional parameters of H. armigera larvae. These results may provide a scientific basis for determining the effect of exogenous insecticidal protein expression in Bt cotton under NaCl stress on H. armigera and can therefore be useful for the effective application of Bt cotton in saline-alkali soils to prevent and control H. armigera.
Project description:An increasing area of transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton is being planted in saline-alkaline soil in China. The Bt protein level in transgenic cotton plants and its control efficiency can be affected by abiotic stress, including high temperature, water deficiency and other factors. However, how soil salinity affects the expression of Bt protein, thus influencing the control efficiency of Bt cotton against the cotton bollworm (CBW) Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner) in the field, is poorly understood. Our objective in the present study was to investigate the effects of soil salinity on the expression of Bt toxin (Cry1Ac) and the control efficiency of Helicoverpa armigera in field-grown transgenic Bt cotton using three natural saline levels (1.15 dS m-1 [low soil-salinity], 6.00 dS m-1 [medium soil-salinity] and 11.46 dS m-1 [high soil-salinity]). We found that the Bt protein content in the transgenic Bt cotton leaves and the insecticidal activity of Bt cotton against CBW decreased with the increasing soil salinity in laboratory experiments during the growing season. The Bt protein content of Bt cotton leaves in the laboratory were negatively correlated with the salinity level. The CBW populations were highest on the Bt cotton grown in medium-salinity soil instead of the high-salinity soil in field conditions. A possible mechanism may be that the relatively high-salinity soil changed the plant nutritional quality or other plant defensive traits. The results from this study may help to identify more appropriate practices to control CBW in Bt cotton fields with different soil salinity levels.
Project description:Transgenic crops producing insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are extensively cultivated worldwide. To counter rapidly increasing pest resistance to crops that produce single Bt toxins, transgenic plant 'pyramids' producing two or more Bt toxins that kill the same pest have been widely adopted. However, cross-resistance and antagonism between Bt toxins limit the sustainability of this approach. Here we describe development and testing of the first pyramids of cotton combining protection from a Bt toxin and RNA interference (RNAi). We developed two types of transgenic cotton plants producing double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) from the global lepidopteran pest Helicoverpa armigera designed to interfere with its metabolism of juvenile hormone (JH). We focused on suppression of JH acid methyltransferase (JHAMT), which is crucial for JH synthesis, and JH-binding protein (JHBP), which transports JH to organs. In 2015 and 2016, we tested larvae from a Bt-resistant strain and a related susceptible strain of H. armigera on seven types of cotton: two controls, Bt cotton, two types of RNAi cotton (targeting JHAMT or JHBP) and two pyramids (Bt cotton plus each type of RNAi). Both types of RNAi cotton were effective against Bt-resistant insects. Bt cotton and RNAi acted independently against the susceptible strain. In computer simulations of conditions in northern China, where millions of farmers grow Bt cotton as well as abundant non-transgenic host plants of H. armigera, pyramided cotton combining a Bt toxin and RNAi substantially delayed resistance relative to using Bt cotton alone.
Project description:The transgenic Bt cotton plant has been widely planted throughout the world for the control of cotton budworm Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner). However, a shift towards insect tolerance of Bt cotton is now apparent. In this study, the gene encoding neuropeptide F (NPF) was cloned from cotton budworm H. armigera, an important agricultural pest. The npf gene produces two splicing mRNA variants-npf1 and npf2 (with a 120-bp segment inserted into the npf1 sequence). These are predicted to form the mature NPF1 and NPF2 peptides, and they were found to regulate feeding behaviour. Knock down of larval npf with dsNPF in vitro resulted in decreases of food consumption and body weight, and dsNPF also caused a decrease of glycogen and an increase of trehalose. Moreover, we produced transgenic tobacco plants transiently expressing dsNPF and transgenic cotton plants with stably expressed dsNPF. Results showed that H. armigera larvae fed on these transgenic plants or leaves had lower food consumption, body size and body weight compared to controls. These results indicate that NPF is important in the control of feeding of H. armigera and valuable for production of potential transgenic cotton.
Project description:To improve the novel Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal gene cry2Ah1 toxicity, two mutants cry2Ah1-vp (V354VP) and cry2Ah1-sp (V354SP) were performed. SWISS-MODEL analysis showed two mutants had a longer loop located between ?-4 and ?-5 of domain II, resulting in higher binding affinity with brush border membrane vesicles (BBMV) of Helicoverpa armigera comparing with Cry2Ah1. The cry2Ah1, cry2Ah1-vp, and cry2Ah1-sp were optimized codon usage according to plant codon bias, and named mcry2Ah1, mcry2Ah1-vp, and mcry2Ah1-sp. They were transformed into tobacco via Agrobacterium-mediated transformation and a total of 4, 8, and 24 transgenic tobacco plants were obtained, respectively. The molecular detection showed the exogenous gene was integrated into tobacco genome, and successfully expressed at the transcript and translation levels. Cry2Ah1 protein in transgenic tobacco plants varied from 4.41 to 40.28??g?g-1 fresh weight. Insect bioassays indicated that all transgenic tobacco plants were highly toxic to both susceptible and Cry1Ac-resistant cotton bollworm larvae, and the insect resistance efficiency to Cry1Ac-resistant cotton bollworm was highest in mcry2Ah1-sp transgenic tobacco plants. The results demonstrated that cry2Ah1 was a useful Bt insecticidal gene to susceptible and Cry1Ac-resistant cotton bollworm and had potential application for insect biocontrol and as a candidate for pyramid strategy in Bt crops.
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: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:The cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera is the major insect pest targeted by cotton genetically engineered to produce the Bacillus thuringiensis toxin (transgenic Bt cotton) in the Old World. The evolution of this pest's resistance to B. thuringiensis toxins is the main threat to the long-term effectiveness of transgenic Bt cotton. A deletion mutation allele (r(1)) of a cadherin gene (Ha_BtR) was previously identified as genetically linked with Cry1Ac resistance in a laboratory-selected strain of H. armigera. Using a biphasic screen strategy, we successfully trapped two new cadherin alleles (r(2) and r(3)) associated with Cry1Ac resistance from a field population of H. armigera collected from the Yellow River cotton area of China in 2005. The r(2) and r(3) alleles, respectively, were created by inserting the long terminal repeat of a retrotransposon (designated HaRT1) and the intact HaRT1 retrotransposon at the same position in exon 8 of Ha_BtR, which results in a truncated cadherin containing only two ectodomain repeats in the N terminus of Ha_BtR. This is the first time that the B. thuringiensis resistance alleles of a target insect of Bt crops have been successfully detected in the open field. This study also demonstrated that bollworm larvae carrying two resistance alleles can complete development on Bt cotton. The cadherin locus should be an important target for intensive DNA-based screening of field populations of H. armigera.
Project description:Higher yields and reduced pesticide impacts are needed to mitigate the effects of agricultural intensification. A 2-year farm-scale evaluation of 81 commercial fields in Arizona show that use of transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton reduced insecticide use, whereas transgenic cotton with Bt protein and herbicide resistance (BtHr) did not affect herbicide use. Transgenic cotton had higher yield than nontransgenic cotton for any given number of insecticide applications. However, nontransgenic, Bt and BtHr cotton had similar yields overall, largely because higher insecticide use with nontransgenic cotton improved control of key pests. Unlike Bt and BtHr cotton, insecticides reduced the diversity of nontarget insects. Several other agronomic and ecological factors also affected biodiversity. Nevertheless, pairwise comparisons of diversity of nontarget insects in cotton fields with diversity in adjacent noncultivated sites revealed similar effects of cultivation of transgenic and nontransgenic cotton on biodiversity. The results indicate that impacts of agricultural intensification can be reduced when replacement of broad-spectrum insecticides by narrow-spectrum Bt crops does not reduce control of pests not affected by Bt crops.
Project description:A pyramid strategy combining the Cry1A and Cry2A toxins in Bt crops has been widely used throughout the world to delay pest adaption to transgenic crops and broaden the insecticidal spectrum. Midgut membrane-bound cadherin (CAD), aminopeptidase-N (APN) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) are important for Cry1A toxicity in some lepidopteran larvae, but the proteins that bind Cry2A in the midgut of target insects and their role in the Cry2A mechanism of action are still unclear. In this study, we found that heterologously expressed CAD, APN4 and ALP2 peptides from the midgut of Helicoverpa armigera could bind to the Cry2Aa toxin with a high affinity. Additionally, the efficiency of Cry2Aa insecticidal activity against H. armigera larvae was obviously reduced after the genes encoding these proteins were silenced with specific siRNAs: CAD- and ALP2-silenced larvae showed significantly similar reductions in mortality due to the Cry2Aa toxin (41.67% and 43.06%, respectively), whereas a larger reduction in mortality was observed in APN4-silenced larvae (61.11%) than in controls. These results suggest that CAD, APN4 and ALP2 are involved in the mechanism of action of Cry2Aa in H. armigera and may play important functional roles in the toxicity of the Cry2Aa toxin.
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.