The area under genetically engineered plants producing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins is steadily increasing. This increase has magnified the risk of alleles conferring resistance to these toxins being selected in natural populations of target insect pests. The speed at which this selection is likely to occur depends on the genetic characteristics of Bt resistance. We selected a strain of the beetle Chrysomela tremulae Fabricius on a transgenic Bt poplar clone Populus tremula L. x Populus tremuloides Michx producing high levels of B. thuringiensis Cry3Aa toxin. This strain was derived from an isofemale line that generated some F2 offspring that actively fed on this Bt poplar clone. The resistance ratio of the strain was >6,400. Susceptibility had decreased to such an extent that the mortality of beetles of the strain fed Bt poplar leaves was similar to that of beetles fed nontransgenic poplar leaves. Genetic crosses between susceptible, resistant, and F1 hybrids showed that resistance to the Cry3Aa toxin was almost completely recessive (DLC = 0.07) and conferred by a single autosomal gene. The concentration of Cry3Aa produced in the transgenic Bt poplar used in this study was 6.34 times higher than the LC99 of the F1 hybrids, accounting for the complete recessivity (DML = 0) of survival on Bt poplar leaves. Overall, the genetic characteristics of the resistance of C. tremulae to the Cry3Aa toxin are consistent with the assumptions underlying the high-dose refuge strategy, which aims to decrease the selection of Bt resistance alleles in natural target pest populations.
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Vol. 97 • No. 3