The 'high dose-refuge' (HDR) strategy is commonly recommended and currently used for delaying or preventing pest adaptation to transgenic plants producing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins. The efficiency of this strategy depends, among other factors, on the initial frequency of Bt resistance alleles and on the fitness costs associated with these alleles. Two years ago, an allele conferring resistance to Bt poplar was detected in a French population of the poplar pest Chrysomela tremulae F. Although this pest had never been subjected to Bt selection pressure due to human activities, the frequency of this allele was estimated at 0.0037, with a 95% credible (CI) interval of 0.00045-0.0080. We investigated the frequency of this allele in a second sample of C. tremulae collected more than 500 km from the site of the initial population. The estimated frequency in this sample was 0.0113 (95% CI 0.0031-0.0247), reinforcing the conclusion that resistance to Bt plants may be present at detectable frequencies in pest populations before selection resulting from pest management by humans. The frequency of the Bt resistance allele over the two samples was 0.0049 (95% CI 0.0020-0.0091). We also followed five laboratory lines in which the frequency of this allele was initially fixed at 0.500. After five generations maintained on non-Bt poplar leaves, the frequency of this allele decreased in all lines, whereas allelic frequencies at a neutral locus were unaffected. Thus, the Bt resistance allele detected in French populations of C. tremulae is probably associated with a fitness cost.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank L Leniaud, S Ponsard and C Vauvarin for help with electrophoresis and R Therene, N Millet for the multiplication of Bt poplars. This work was supported by the AO of the Ministère de la Recherche ‘Impact des Organismes Génétiquement Modifés’.
- Bacillus thuringiensis
- Chrysomela tremulae
- Fitness cost
- Resistance allele frequency
- Resistance management
- Transgenic poplar