Cry1Ac protoxin (the active insecticidal toxin in both Bollgard and Bollgard II cotton [Gossypium hirsutum L.]), and Cry2Ab2 toxin (the second insecticidal toxin in Bollgard II cotton) were bioassayed against five of the primary lepidopteran pests of cotton by using diet incorporation. Cry1Ac was the most toxic to Heliothis virescens (F.) and Pectinophora gossypiella (Saunders), demonstrated good activity against Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), and had negligible toxicity against Spodoptera exigua (Hübner) and Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith). Cry2Ab2 was the most toxic to P. gossypiella and least toxic to S. frugiperda. Cry2Ab2 was more toxic to S. exigua and S. frugiperda than Cry1Ac. Of the three insect species most sensitive to both Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) proteins (including H. zea), P. gossypiella was only three-fold less sensitive to Cry2Ab2 than Cry1Ac, whereas H. virescens was 40-fold less sensitive to Cry2Ab2 compared with Cry1Ac. Cotton plants expressing Cry1Ac only and both Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab2 proteins were characterized for toxicity against H. zea and S. frugiperda larvae in the laboratory and H. zea larvae in an environmental chamber. In no-choice assays on excised squares from plants of different ages, second instar H. zea larvae were controlled by Cry1Ac/Cry2Ab2 cotton with mortality levels of 90% and greater at 5 d compared with 30–80% mortality for Cry1Ac-only cotton, depending on plant age. Similarly, feeding on leaf discs from Cry1Ac/Cry2Ab2 cotton resulted in mortality of second instars of S. frugiperda ranging from 69 to 93%, whereas exposure to Cry1Ac-only cotton yielded 20–69% mortality, depending on plant age. When cotton blooms were infested in situ in an environmental chamber with neonate H. zea larvae previously fed on synthetic diet for 0, 24, or 48 h, 7-d flower abortion levels for Cry1Ac-only cotton were 15, 41, and 63%, respectively, whereas for Cry1Ac/Cry2Ab2 cotton, flower abortion levels were 0, 0, and 5%, respectively. Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab2 concentrations were measured within various cotton tissues of Cry1Ac-only and Cry1Ac/Cry2Ab2 plants, respectively, by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Terminal leaves significantly expressed the highest, and large leaves, calyx, and bracts expressed significantly the lowest concentrations of Cry1Ac, respectively. Ovules expressed significantly the highest, and terminal leaves, large leaves, bracts, and calyx expressed significantly (P < 0.05) the lowest concentrations of Cry2Ab2. These results help explain the observed differences between Bollgard and Bollgard II mortality against the primary lepidopteran cotton pests, and they may lead to improved scouting and resistance management practices, and to more effective control of these pests with Bt transgenic crops in the future.
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Vol. 101 • No. 2