Indexed on: 28 Apr '12Published on: 28 Apr '12Published in: Journal of Invertebrate Pathology
Transgenic crops producing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins kill some major insect pests, but pests can evolve resistance and thereby reduce the effectiveness of such Bt crops. The main approach for slowing 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 cotton producing Bt toxin Cry1Ac, several 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. This strategy is designed for cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera), which attacks many crops and is the primary target of Bt cotton in China, but it does not apply to pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), which feeds almost entirely on cotton in China. Here we review evidence of field-evolved resistance to Cry1Ac by cotton bollworm in northern China and by pink bollworm in the Yangtze River Valley of China. For both pests, results of laboratory diet bioassays reveal significantly decreased susceptibility of field populations to Cry1Ac, yet field control failures of Bt cotton have not been reported. The early detection of resistance summarized here may spur countermeasures such as planting Bt cotton that produces two or more distinct toxins, increased planting of non-Bt cotton, and integration of other management tactics together with Bt cotton.