Biochemical mechanisms of malathion resistance were investigated in a malathion-resistant strain of the parasitoid Habrobracon hebetor Say collected from a farm storage in Kansas. General esterase activities were significantly lower in the resistant strain compared with those in a susceptible strain. However, no significant differences were found in activities of malathion specific carboxylesterase (MCE), glutathione S-transferase and cytochrome P450 dependent O-demethylase activities, cytochrome P450 contents, and sensitivity of acetylcholinesterase to inhibition by malaoxon between the 2 strains. Because MCE was not elevated in the resistant strain, the weak malathion resistance in H. hebetor may result from a different mechanism compared with that hypothesized for some insect species in which reduced general esterase activity is accompanied by an elevated MCE. Decreased esterase activity in the resistant strain suggested that null alleles of some esterases were associated with the resistance. Indeed, E1 and E2, major esterases in the susceptible strain, were not present in the resistant strain on polyacrylamide gels that were stained for esterase activity using the model substrate 1-naphthyl acetate. In contrast, the activity of esterase E3 on the gels was much higher in the resistant strain as compared with that of the susceptible strain. These findings indicate that malathion resistance in H. hebetor is associated with both an increased activity of the esterase E3 and null alleles of the esterases E1 and E2.
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Vol. 93 • No. 1