Broad-spectrum resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis toxins by western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera)
The evolution of resistance and cross-resistance threaten the sustainability of genetically engineered crops that produce insecticidal toxins derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, is a serious pest of maize and has been managed with Bt maize since 2003. We conducted laboratory bioassays with maize hybrids producing Bt toxins Cry3Bb1, mCry3A, eCry3.1Ab, and Cry34/35Ab1, which represent all commercialized Bt toxins for management of western corn rootworm. We tested populations from fields where severe injury to Cry3Bb1 maize was observed, and populations that had never been exposed to Bt maize. Consistent with past studies, bioassays indicated that field populations were resistant to Cry3Bb1 maize and mCry3A maize, and that cross-resistance was present between these two types of Bt maize. Additionally, bioassays revealed resistance to eCry3.1Ab maize and cross-resistance among Cry3Bb1, mCry3A and eCry3.1Ab. However, no resistance or cross-resistance was detected for Cry34/35Ab1 maize. This broad-spectrum resistance illustrates the potential for insect pests to develop resistance rapidly to multiple Bt toxins when structural similarities are present among toxins, and raises concerns about the long-term durability of Bt crops for management of some insect pests.
This article is published as Jakka, Siva RK, Ram B. Shrestha, and Aaron J. Gassmann. "Broad-spectrum resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis toxins by western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera)." Scientific reports 6 (2016): 27860. doi: 10.1038/srep27860.