Extended monitoring of resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ab maize in Diatraea saccharalis (Lepidoptera: Crambidae).
The sugarcane borer, Diatraea saccharalis (F.), is a major target of transgenic maize expressing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) proteins in South America and the mid-Southern region of the United States. During 2007-2009, a total of 986 feral individuals of D. saccharalis were collected from maize fields in six locations of Louisiana and Mississippi and examined for resistance to Cry1Ab maize using F1/F2 screens. Major resistance alleles to Cry1Ab maize in the populations sampled from non-Bt maize plants during 2007 and 2008 in Louisiana and 2009 in Mississippi were rare. From a total of 487 individuals collected from three locations in Louisiana in 2007 and 2008, only one individual was identified with major resistance alleles. In addition, no major resistance alleles were detected in 242 individuals collected from three locations in Mississippi in 2009. The frequency of major resistance alleles was estimated to be 0.002 with a 95% CI of 0.00025-0.0057 for the Louisiana populations and <0.0061, with 95% probability, for the Mississippi populations. The resistance frequency estimated for the Louisiana populations in 2007 and 2008 was not significantly different from those reported previously for populations sampled in 2004-2006. However, among 200 individuals sampled from non-Bt maize plants in 2009 in Louisiana, six individuals were identified to possess major resistance alleles. The estimated major resistance allele frequency for the populations sampled from non-Bt maize plants in 2009 in Louisiana was 0.0176 with a 95% CI of 0.0072 to 0.0328, which was significantly greater than those estimated for the populations collected in 2004-2008. Similarly, the frequency of minor resistance alleles to Cry1Ab maize for the Louisiana populations collected in 2009 was also significantly greater than those estimated for the populations sampled before. In addition, two out of 57 feral individuals collected from Bt maize plants in Louisiana in 2009 were identified to carry major resistance alleles to Cry1Ab maize. Since 2010, transgenic maize expressing pyramided Bt genes has been planted in the US mid-Southern region and by 2011, pyramided Bt maize has replaced Cry1Ab maize as the dominant Bt maize for managing lepidopteran pests including D. saccharalis. The timely switching from single-gene Cry1Ab maize to the pyramided Bt maize should prevent further increases in Cry1Ab resistance allele frequency and thus ensure the continued success of Bt maize for managing D. saccharalis in the region.