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Tabashnik B.E.,University of Arizona | Sisterson M.S.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Ellsworth P.C.,University of Arizona | Dennehy T.J.,University of Arizona | And 12 more authors.
Nature Biotechnology | Year: 2010

Genetically engineered crops that produce insecticidal toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are grown widely for pest control. However, insect adaptation can reduce the toxins' efficacy. The predominant strategy for delaying pest resistance to Bt crops requires refuges of non-Bt host plants to provide susceptible insects to mate with resistant insects. Variable farmer compliance is one of the limitations of this approach. Here we report the benefits of an alternative strategy where sterile insects are released to mate with resistant insects and refuges are scarce or absent. Computer simulations show that this approach works in principle against pests with recessive or dominant inheritance of resistance. During a large-scale, four-year field deployment of this strategy in Arizona, resistance of pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) to Bt cotton did not increase. A multitactic eradication program that included the release of sterile moths reduced pink bollworm abundance by >99%, while eliminating insecticide sprays against this key invasive pest. © 2010 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.

Carriere Y.,University of Arizona | Degain B.,University of Arizona | Hartfield K.A.,University of Arizona | Nolte K.D.,University of Arizona | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Economic Entomology | Year: 2014

Theory indicates that landscape composition affects transmission of vector-borne crop diseases, but few empirical studies have investigated how landscape composition affects plant disease epidemiology. Since 2006, Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) has vectored the cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV) to cantaloupe and honeydew melons (Cucumis melo L.) in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, causing significant reductions in yield of fall melons and increased use of insecticides. Here, we show that a landscape-based approach allowing simultaneous assessment of impacts of local (i.e., planting date) and regional (i.e., landscape composition) factors provides valuable insights on how to reduce crop disease risks. Specifically, we found that planting fall melon fields early in the growing season, eliminating plants germinating from seeds produced by spring melons after harvest, and planting fall melon fields away from cotton and spring melon fields may significantly reduce the incidence of CYSDV infection in fall melons. Because the largest scale of significance of the positive association between abundance of cotton and spring melon fields and CYSDV incidence was 1,750 and 3,000 m, respectively, reducing areas of cotton and spring melon fields within these distances from fall melon fields may decrease CYSDV incidence. Our results indicate that landscape-based studies will be fruitful to alleviate limitations imposed on crop production by vector-borne diseases. © 2014 Entomological Society of America.

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