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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Southern Insect Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #385710

Research Project: Ecologically Sustainable Approaches to Insect Resistance Management in Bt Cotton

Location: Southern Insect Management Research

Title: Early warning of resistance to Bt toxin Vip3Aa in Helicoverpa zea

item YANG, FEI - Texas A&M University
item KERNS, DAVID - Texas A&M University
item Little, Nathan
item SANTIAGO GONZALEZ, JOSE - Texas A&M University
item TABASHNIK, BRUCE - University Of Arizona

Submitted to: Toxins
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/27/2021
Publication Date: 9/2/2021
Citation: Yang, F., Kerns, D.L., Little, N., Santiago Gonzalez, J.C., Tabashnik, B.E. 2021. Early warning of resistance to Bt toxin Vip3Aa in Helicoverpa zea. Toxins. 13(9):618.

Interpretive Summary: This study reports evidence that some populations of bollworm in the southern United States are beginning to evolve resistance to the Bt toxin Vip3Aa. Because Vip3Aa is the only Bt toxin produced by transgenic corn and cotton that remains highly effective against some populations of this pest, action is needed to preserve its efficacy in cotton-growing regions of the United States. The evidence reported in this study and related data highlight the urgency to prohibit selling and planting field corn hybrids that produce Vip3Aa in the cotton-growing regions of the southern United States. This would limit selection for resistance to Vip3Aa in corn where bollworm is not a major economic pest, and thereby help to preserve its efficacy against this insect pest in cotton where it is a major economic pest.

Technical Abstract: Evolution of resistance by pests can reduce the benefits of crops genetically engineered to produce insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Because of widespread resistance in the United States of Helicoverpa zea to crystalline (Cry) Bt toxins, the vegetative insecticidal protein Vip3Aa is the only Bt toxin produced by Bt corn and cotton that remains effective against some populations of this polyphagous lepidopteran pest. Here we evaluated the status of H. zea resistance to Vip3Aa using diet bioassays to test 41,744 larvae from three lab strains and 71 strains derived from the field during 2016 to 2020 in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. Relative to the least susceptible of the three lab strains tested (BZ), susceptibility to Vip3Aa of the field-derived strains decreased significantly from 2016 to 2020. Relative to another lab strain (TM), 6 of 16 strains derived from the field in 2019 were significantly resistant to Vip3Aa, with up to 13-fold resistance. Resistance to Vip3Aa was higher for strains derived from Vip3Aa plants than non-Vip3Aa plants, providing direct evidence of resistance evolving in response to selection by Vip3Aa plants in the field. Together with previously reported data, the results here provide an early warning of field-evolved resistance to Vip3Aa in H. zea that supports calls for urgent action to preserve the efficacy of this toxin.