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Tradeoff between reproduction and resistance evolution to Bt-toxin in Helicoverpa armigera: regulated by vitellogenin gene expression

  • W.N. Zhang (a1), H.J. Xiao (a1) (a2), G.M. Liang (a1), Y.Y. Guo (a1) and K.M. Wu (a1)...

Evolution of resistance to insecticides usually has fitness tradeoffs associated with adaptation to the stress. The basic regulation mechanism of tradeoff between reproduction and resistance evolution to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin in the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Ha), based on the vitellogenin (Vg) gene expression was analyzed here. The full-length cDNA of the Vg gene HaVg (JX504706) was cloned and identified. HaVg has 5704 base pairs (bp) with an open reading frame (ORF) of 5265 bp, which encoded 1756 amino acid protein with a predicted molecular mass of 197.28 kDa and a proposed isoelectric point of 8.74. Sequence alignment analysis indicated that the amino acid sequence of HaVg contained all of the conserved domains detected in the Vgs of the other insects and had a high similarity with the Vgs of the Lepidoptera insects, especially Noctuidae. The resistance level to Cry1Ac Bt toxin and relative HaVg mRNA expression levels among the following four groups: Cry1Ac-susceptible strain (96S), Cry1Ac-resistant strain fed on artificial diet with Bt toxin for 135 generations (BtR stands for the Cry1Ac Bt resistance), progeny of the Cry1Ac-resistant strain with a non-Bt-toxin artificial diet for 38 generations (CK1) and the direct descendants of the 135th-generation resistant larvae which were fed on an artificial diet without the Cry1Ac protein (CK2) were analyzed. Compared with the 96S strain, the resistance ratios of the BtR strain, the CK1 strain and the CK2 strain were 2917.15-, 2.15- and 2037.67-fold, respectively. The maximum relative HaVg mRNA expression levels of the BtR strain were approximately 50% less than that of the 96S strain, and the coming of maximum expression was delayed for approximately 4 days. The overall trend of the HaVg mRNA expression levels in the CK1 strain was similar to that in the 96S strain, and the overall trend of the HaVg mRNA expression levels in the CK2 strain was similar to that in the BtR strain. Our results suggest that the changes in reproduction due to the Bt-toxin resistance evolution in the BtR strain may be regulated by the Vg gene expression. The down-regulation of HaVg at the early stages resulted in a period of delayed reproduction and decreased fecundity in the BtR strain. This performance disappeared when the Bt-toxin selection pressure was lost.

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