Submitted to: Nature Biotechnology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/8/2010
Publication Date: 11/7/2010
Citation: Tabashnik,B.E., Sisterson,M.S., Antilla,L., Liesner,L., Staten,R.T., Ellsworth, P.C., Fabrick,J.A., Yelich,A.J., Unnithan,G.C., Ellers-Kirk,C., Carriere,Y. 2010. Suppressing resistance to Bt cotton with sterile insect releases. Nature Biotechnology. 28(12):1304-1307. Interpretive Summary: Transgenic plants producing insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are grown widely to control pests, but evolution of insect resistance can reduce their efficacy. The pink bollworm is a major insect pest of cotton and is the target of an area-wide eradication program with the purpose to eliminate pink bollworm from cotton-producing areas of the U.S. and adjacent areas of northern Mexico. Bt cotton and sterile insect technology are key components of the program. Although the predominant strategy for delaying insect resistance to transgenic crops producing Bt toxins requires refuges of non-Bt plants, an alternative strategy based on sterile insect releases suppressed resistance of pink bollworm to Bt cotton, reduced pest infestation, and virtually eliminated insecticide sprays against this invasive insect in Arizona.
Technical Abstract: Transgenic plants producing insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are grown widely to control pests, but evolution of insect resistance can reduce their efficacy. The predominant strategy for delaying insect resistance to Bt crops requires refuges of non-Bt host plants to provide susceptible insects for mating with resistant insects. Here we describe an alternative strategy where sterile insects are released to mate with resistant insects. Computer simulations show that this strategy works in principle against pests with recessive or dominant inheritance of resistance. Field data from Arizona testing this strategy against pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), a major cotton pest, show suppression of its resistance to Bt cotton as well as greater than 99% decreases in infestation of cotton and insecticide sprays against this invasive insect.