Cost and mitigation of insecticide resistance in the maize weevil, Sitophilus zeamais


*Dr Raul Narciso C. Guedes, Departamento de Biologia Animal, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG 36571-000, Brazil. Tel.: +55 31 38992006; fax: +55 31 38992537; e-mail:


Abstract.  A common assumption in models of insecticide resistance evolution is the association between resistance and fitness costs in the absence of insecticides. There is empirical evidence of such associations, but their physiological basis (and mitigation) is little investigated. Pyrethroid-resistant populations of the maize weevil Sitophilus zeamais (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) offer this opportunity. Pyrethroid resistance in this species was initially observed in five Brazilian states by 1995, but the phenomenon apparently decreased and did not spread to other regions, probably due to the occurrence of a fitness disadvantage in resistant individuals in the absence of insecticides. The present investigation aims to verify whether differences in respiration rate and fat body morphology are related to differences in rate of development in Brazilian populations of S. zeamais resistant to insecticides, and thereby provide evidence for the existence (or not) of a physiological fitness cost acting against insecticide resistance in maize weevils. This may occur due to a possible energy trade-off between insecticide resistance and other physiological processes associated with development and reproduction. To achieve this, studies of the rate of development, respiration and fat body cytomorphology are carried out in one insecticide-susceptible (from Sete Lagoas) and two resistant populations (from Jacarezinho and Juiz de Fora) of S. zeamais. The resistant population from Jacarezinho shows that higher body mass is associated with higher energy reserves (larger trophocyte area) for development and reproduction, as well as for insecticide resistance. However, the resistant population from Juiz de Fora does not appear to have large enough energy allocation for insecticide-resistance expression and development and/or reproductive performance, suggesting a trade-off between resistance and other life history traits.