• Open Access

Adaptive management of pest resistance by Helicoverpa species (Noctuidae) in Australia to the Cry2Ab Bt toxin in Bollgard II® cotton


Sharon Downes, CSIRO Entomology, Australian Cotton Research Institute, 21888 Kamilaroi Hwy, Narrabri, NSW 2390, Australia.
Tel: 61 2 6799 1576; fax: 61 2 6793 1186;
e-mail: sharon.downes@csiro.au


In Australia, monitoring Helicoverpa species for resistance to the Cry2Ab toxin in second generation Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton has precisely fulfilled its intended function: to warn of increases in resistance frequencies that may lead to field failures of the technology. Prior to the widespread adoption of two-gene Bt cotton, the frequency of Cry2Ab resistance alleles was at least 0.001 in H. armigera and H. punctigera. In the 5 years hence, there has been a significant and apparently exponential increase in the frequency of alleles conferring Cry2Ab resistance in field populations of H. punctigera. Herein we review the history of deploying and managing resistance to Bt cotton in Australia, outline the characteristics of the isolated resistance that likely impact on resistance evolution, and use a simple model to predict likely imminent resistance frequencies. We then discuss potential strategies to mitigate further increases in resistance frequencies, until the release of a third generation product. These include mandating larger structured refuges, applying insecticide to crops late in the season, and restricting the area of Bollgard II® cotton. The area planted to Bt-crops is anticipated to continue to rise worldwide; therefore the strategies being considered in Australia are likely to relate to other situations.