A Modified F2 Screen for Estimating Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab Resistance Allele Frequencies in Helicoverpa zea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

José C. Santiago-González, David L. Kerns, Graham P. Head, Fei Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Evaluating the frequency of resistance alleles is important for resistance management and sustainable use of transgenic crops that produce insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis. Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) is a major crop pest in the United States that has evolved practical resistance to the crystalline (Cry) proteins in Bt corn and cotton.The standard F2 screen for estimating resistance allele frequency does not work well for H. zea because successful single-pair matings are rare. In this study, we developed and implemented a modified F2 screen for H. zea that generates F1 progeny by crossing three laboratory susceptible female moths with one feral male moth instead of single-pair crosses. During 2019–2020, we used this modified method to establish 192 F2 families from 623 matings between susceptible females and feral males from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. From each F2 family, we screened 128 neonates against discriminating concentrations of Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab in diet overlay bioassays. Based on these discriminating concentration bioassays, families were considered positive for resistance if at least five larvae survived to second instar, including at least one to third instar. The percentage of positive families was 92.7% for Cry1Ac and 38.5% for Cry2Ab, which yields an estimated resistance allele frequency (with 95% confidence interval) of 0.722 (0.688–0.764) for Cry1Ac and 0.217 (0.179–0.261) for Cry2Ab. The modified F2 screen developed and implemented here may be useful for future resistance monitoring studies of H. zea and other pests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-296
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of economic entomology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved.


  • Bacillus thuringiensis
  • Cry1Ac
  • Cry2Ab
  • Helicoverpa zea
  • allele frequency

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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