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The corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), is a major pest targeted by pyramided Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn and cotton in the U.S. Cry1Ab is one of the first insecticidal toxins used in Bt crops, while Vip3A is a relatively new toxin that has recently been incorporated into Cry corn with event MIR 162 and Cry cotton varieties to generate pyramided Bt traits targeting lepidopteran pests including H. zea. The objectives of this study were to determine the current status and distribution of the Cry1Ab resistance, and evaluate the susceptibility to Vip3Aa20 expressed in MIR 162 corn in H. zea in the southeastern U.S. During 2018 and 2019, 32 H. zea populations were collected from non-Bt corn (19 populations), Cry corn (12), and Cry/Vip3A cotton (1) across major corn areas in seven southeastern states of the U.S. Susceptibility of these populations to Cry1Ab and Vip3Aa20 was determined using diet-overlay bioassays. Compared to a known susceptible insect strain, 80% of the field populations were 13- to >150-fold resistant to Cry1Ab, while their response to Vip3Aa20 ranged from >11-fold more susceptible to 9-fold more tolerant. Mean susceptibility to each Bt toxin was not significantly different between the two groups of the populations collected from non-Bt and Bt crops, as well as between the two groups of the populations collected during 2018 and 2019. The results show that resistance to Cry1Ab in H. zea is widely distributed across the region. However, the Cry1Ab-resistant populations are not cross-resistant to Vip3Aa20, and H. zea in the region is still susceptible to the Vip3Aa20 toxin. Vip3Aa20 concentrations between 5 and 10 µg/cm2 may be used as diagnostic concentrations for susceptibility monitoring in future. Additional studies are necessary to elucidate the impact of the selection with Bt corn on resistance evolution in H. zea to Vip3A cotton in the U.S.


Ying Niu, Isaac Oyediran, Wenbo Yu, Shucong Lin, Marcelo Dimase, Sebe Brown, Francis P F Reay-Jones, Don Cook, Dominic Reisig, Ben Thrash, Xinzhi Ni, Silvana V Paula-Moraes, Yan Zhang, Jeng Shong Chen, Zhimou Wen, Fangneng Huang. Populations of Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) in the Southeastern United States are Commonly Resistant to Cry1Ab, but Still Susceptible to Vip3Aa20 Expressed in MIR 162 Corn. Toxins. 2021 Jan 15;13(1)

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PMID: 33467562

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