The Evolution of Insect Resistance to Bt Crops

argylesock says… Some of the most popular GM (genetically modified, also called genetically engineered, GE) crops are Bt crops. That means that they make an insecticide called Bt toxin in the crop plant’s own tissues. The Bt toxin kills insect pests that eat the crop. After a while – sometimes a short while – the insects evolve to resist that Bt toxin. Here’s some science about how well Bt crops are succeeding, and about how soon they fail, and about how farmers can manage the pests’ evolution.

The Plantwise Blog

A group of scientists at the University of Arizona have this week published a paper in Nature Biotechnology on the evolution of resistance in insect pests populations to insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that are produced by transgenic crops. Resistance is defined as the phenotype of an individual that gives the individual the ability to survive on a transgenic insecticidal plant from egg to adult and provide viable offspring. The team analysed field and laboratory data from seventy-seven studies of thirteen pest species in eighteen countries across five continents. Entomologist Bruce Tabashnik and colleagues found well documented cases of field-evolved resistance to Bt crops in five major pests as of 2010. 60% of these cases occurred in the U.S.A, where approximately half of the world’s Bt crop acreage is planted. In some cases, resistance to Bt evolved within as little as two to three years, whilst in…

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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