Evolution of resistance by pests reduces the benefits of transgenic crops that produce insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Here we analyzed resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac in a field-derived strain of pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), a global pest of cotton. We discovered that the r14 allele of the pink bollworm cadherin gene (PgCad1) has a 234-bp insertion in exon 12 encoding a mutant PgCad1 protein that lacks 36 amino acids in cadherin repeat 5 (CR5). A strain homozygous for this allele had 237-fold resistance to Cry1Ac, 1.8-fold cross-resistance to Cry2Ab, and developed from neonate to adult on Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac. Inheritance of resistance to Cry1Ac was recessive and tightly linked with r14. PgCad1 transcript abundance in midgut tissues did not differ between resistant and susceptible larvae. Toxicity of Cry1Ac to transformed insect cells was lower for cells expressing r14 than for cells expressing wild-type PgCad1. Wild-type PgCad1 was transported to the cell membrane, whereas PgCad1 produced by r14 was not. In larval midgut tissue, PgCad1 protein occurred primarily on the brush border membrane only in susceptible larvae. The results imply r14 mediates pink bollworm resistance to Cry1Ac by reduced translation, increased degradation, and/or mislocalization of cadherin.
ASJC Scopus subject areas