Crops producing insecticidal toxins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are widely planted and enable management of key insect pests while reducing the use of conventional insecticides. However, the evolution of Bt resistance could diminish these benefits. Fitness costs of Bt resistance occur in the absence of Bt toxin when individuals with resistance alleles show a reduction in fitness relative to susceptible individuals, and they can delay the evolution of resistance. Ecological factors including host-plant variety can affect the magnitude of fitness costs, and consequently, the degree to which fitness costs delay resistance. In this study, we measured fitness costs of resistance to Bt toxin Cry1F in the European corn borer Ostrinia nubilalis Hübner (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) using Cry1F-resistant and Cry1F-susceptible strains sharing a similar genetic background. Fitness costs were tested on three lines of maize, Zea mays L., by measuring larval survival and development in two greenhouse experiments with plants in either the vegetative or reproductive stage. Both experiments showed that maize line significantly affected larval survival and developmental rate. However, larval survival, mass, and developmental rate did not differ between the Cry1F-resistant and susceptible strains, indicating a lack of fitness costs of resistance to Cry1F for the larval fitness components measured in this experiment. Future experiments should test for fitness costs of Cry1F resistance affecting survival to adulthood and adult life-history parameters.
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Vol. 107 • No. 2