Effects of gossypol on fitness costs associated with resistance to Bt cotton in pink bollworm

Yves Carrière, Christa Ellers-Kirk, Robert Biggs, Dawn M. Higginson, Timothy J. Dennehy, Bruce E. Tabashnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Fitness costs associated with insect resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) crops may help to delay or prevent the spread of resistance alleles, especially when refuges of non-Bt host plants are present. The potential for such delays increases as the magnitude and dominance of fitness costs increase. Here, we examined the idea that plant secondary chemicals affect expression of fitness costs associated with resistance to Bt cotton in Pectinophora gossypiella (Saunders). Specifically, we tested the hypotheses that gossypol affects the magnitude or dominance of fitness costs, by measuring performance of three independent sets of pink bollworm populations fed artificial diet with and without gossypol. Each set had an unselected susceptible population, a resistant population derived by selection from the susceptible population, and the F1 progeny of the susceptible and resistant populations. No individuals completed development on diets with gossypol in one set, suggesting that these individuals partially lost the ability to detoxify this chemical. In the other two sets, costs affecting survival did not support the hypotheses, but costs affecting pupal weight did. Adding gossypol to diet increased the magnitude and dominance of costs affecting pupal weight. In one of the two sets with survivors on diet with gossypol, costs affecting development time were less recessive when gossypol was present in diet. These results indicate that gossypol increased the magnitude and dominance of some fitness costs. Better understanding of the effects of natural plant defenses on fitness costs could improve our ability to design refuges for managing insect resistance to Bt crops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1710-1718
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of economic entomology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • Bacillus thuringiensis
  • Fitness costs
  • Gossypol
  • Pectinophora gossypiella
  • Transgenic crops

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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