Genetic resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis alters feeding behaviour in the cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni

Ikkei Shikano, Jenny S. Cory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Evolved resistance to xenobiotics and parasites is often associated with fitness costs when the selection pressure is absent. Resistance to the widely used microbial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has evolved in several insect species through the modification of insect midgut binding sites for Bt toxins, and reports of costs associated with Bt resistance are common. Studies on the costs of Bt-resistance restrict the insect to a single artificial diet or host-plant. However, it is well documented that insects can self-select appropriate proportions of multiple nutritionally unbalanced foods to optimize life-history traits. Therefore, we examined whether Bt-resistant and susceptible cabbage loopers Trichoplusia ni differed in their nutrient intake and fitness costs when they were allowed to compose their own protein:carbohydrate diet. We found that Bt-resistant T. ni composed a higher ratio of protein to carbohydrate than susceptible T. ni. Bt-resistant males exhibited no fitness cost, while the fitness cost (reduced pupal weight) was present in resistant females. The absence of the fitness cost in resistant males was associated with increased carbohydrate consumption compared to females. We demonstrate a sex difference in a fitness cost and a new behavioural outcome associated with Bt resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere85709
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 21 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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