Mutation in the ace-1 gene of the tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta) associated with organophosphates resistance.
The tomato leaf miner, Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), is a major invasive pest that has spread throughout many countries in the Mediterranean basin and parts of Asia over the last decade. The control of T. absoluta has relied heavily on the use of chemical insecticides, a strategy that has led to the evolution of resistance. In this study, biological and molecular methods were used to determine the susceptibility of five strains of T. absoluta to the organophosphate chlorpyrifos and to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying resistance to this class of insecticides. High levels of resistance to chlorpyrifos were observed in all five strains tested. Cloning and sequencing of the gene encoding the organophosphate target site, ace-1, of T. absoluta revealed the presence of an alanine to serine substitution at a position that has been previously linked with organophosphate resistance across a range of different insect and mite species. The presence of this mutation at high frequency in T. absoluta populations originating from various countries further supports the suggestion that the rapid expansion of this species is, in part, mediated by the resistance of this pest to chemical insecticides.