The Cotton Catchment Communities Cooperative Research Centre began during a period of rapid uptake of Bollgard II® cotton, which contains genes to express two Bt proteins that control the primary pests of cotton in Australia, Helicoverpa armigera and H. punctigera. The dramatic uptake of this technology presumably resulted in strong selection pressure for resistance in Helicoverpa spp. against the Bt proteins. The discovery of higher than expected levels of resistance in both species against one of the proteins in Bollgard II® cotton (Cry2Ab) led to significant re-evaluation of the resistance management plan developed for this technology, which was a core area of research for the Cotton CRC. The uptake of Bollgard II® cotton also led to a substantial decline in pesticide applications against Helicoverpa spp. (from 10–14 to 0–3 applications per season). The low spray environment allowed some pests not controlled by the Bt proteins to emerge as more significant pests, especially sucking species such as Creontiades dilutus and Nezara viridula. A range of other minor pests have also sporadically arisen as problems. Lack of knowledge and experience with these pests created uncertainty and encouraged insecticide use, which threatened to undermine the gains made with Bollgard II® cotton. Here we chronicle the achievements of the Cotton CRC in providing the industry with new knowledge and management strategies for these pests.
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Vol. 64 • No. 8