Molecular Genetic Basis of Lab- and Field-Selected Bt Resistance in Pink Bollworm

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Transgenic crops producing insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) control some important insect pests. However, evolution of resistance by pests reduces the efficacy of Bt crops. Here we review resistance to Bt cotton in the pink bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella, one of the world’s most damaging pests of cotton. Field outcomes with Bt cotton and pink bollworm during the past quarter century differ markedly among the world’s top three cotton-producing countries: practical resistance in India, sustained susceptibility in China, and eradication of this invasive lepidopteran pest from the United States achieved with Bt cotton and other tactics. We compared the molecular genetic basis of pink bollworm resistance between lab-selected strains from the U.S. and China and field-selected populations from India for two Bt proteins (Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab) produced in widely adopted Bt cotton. Both lab- and field-selected resistance are associated with mutations affecting the cadherin protein PgCad1 for Cry1Ac and the ATP-binding cassette transporter protein PgABCA2 for Cry2Ab. The results imply lab selection is useful for identifying genes important in field-evolved resistance to Bt crops, but not necessarily the specific mutations in those genes. The results also suggest that differences in management practices, rather than genetic constraints, caused the strikingly different outcomes among countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number201
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • ATP-binding cassette transporter
  • Bacillus thuringiensis
  • Pectinophora gossypiella
  • cadherin
  • genetically engineered crop
  • resistance
  • transgenic cotton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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