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Downes S.,CSIRO | Mahon R.J.,CSIRO | Rossiter L.,Australian Cotton Research Institute | Kauter G.,Cotton Australia Ltd | And 3 more authors.
Evolutionary Applications | Year: 2010

In Australia, monitoring Helicoverpa species for resistance to the Cry2Ab toxin in second generation Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton has precisely fulfilled its intended function: to warn of increases in resistance frequencies that may lead to field failures of the technology. Prior to the widespread adoption of two-gene Bt cotton, the frequency of Cry2Ab resistance alleles was at least 0.001 in H. armigera and H. punctigera. In the 5years hence, there has been a significant and apparently exponential increase in the frequency of alleles conferring Cry2Ab resistance in field populations of H. punctigera. Herein we review the history of deploying and managing resistance to Bt cotton in Australia, outline the characteristics of the isolated resistance that likely impact on resistance evolution, and use a simple model to predict likely imminent resistance frequencies. We then discuss potential strategies to mitigate further increases in resistance frequencies, until the release of a third generation product. These include mandating larger structured refuges, applying insecticide to crops late in the season, and restricting the area of Bollgard II® cotton. The area planted to Bt-crops is anticipated to continue to rise worldwide; therefore the strategies being considered in Australia are likely to relate to other situations. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

Hereward J.P.,University of Queensland | Hereward J.P.,Australian Cotton Research Institute | Walter G.H.,University of Queensland | Debarro P.J.,CSIRO | And 3 more authors.
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2013

Creontiades dilutus (Stål), the green mirid, is a polyphagous herbivorous insect endemic to Australia. Although common in the arid interior of Australia and found on several native host plants that are spatially and temporally ephemeral, green mirids also reach pest levels on several crops in eastern Australia. These host-associated dynamics, distributed across a large geographic area, raise questions as to whether (1) seasonal fluctuations in population size result in genetic bottlenecks and drift, (2) arid and agricultural populations are genetically isolated, and (3) the use of different host plants results in genetic differentiation. We sequenced a mitochondrial COI fragment from individuals collected over 24 years and screened microsatellite variation from 32 populations across two seasons. The predominance of a single COI haplotype and negative Tajima D in samples from 2006/2007 fit with a population expansion model. In the older collections (1983 and 1993), a different haplotype is most prevalent, consistent with successive population contractions and expansions. Microsatellite data indicates recent migration between inland sites and coastal crops and admixture in several populations. Altogether, the data suggest that long-distance dispersal occurs between arid and agricultural regions, and this, together with fluctuations in population size, leads to temporally dynamic patterns of genetic differentiation. Host-associated differentiation is evident between mirids sampled from plants in the genus Cullen (Fabaceae), the primary host, and alternative host plant species growing nearby in arid regions. Our results highlight the importance of jointly assessing natural and agricultural environments in understanding the ecology of pest insects.© 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution. Source

Lategan M.J.,University of Technology, Sydney | Lategan M.J.,Cooperative Research Center for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment | Korbel K.,University of Technology, Sydney | Korbel K.,Australian Cotton Research Institute | And 2 more authors.
Marine and Freshwater Research | Year: 2010

The cotton strip assay uses the loss of tensile strength of cotton strips as a measure of microbial cellulolytic activity. Its suitability for measuring general microbial activity in groundwater was tested by examining the relationship of tensile strength, abundance of cellulolytic organisms and general microbial activity on cotton strips deployed in bores. The hypothesis was that the strength of cotton strips would decline with increasing abundance and activity of cellulolytic organisms, and as cellulolysis makes resources available to other microbial groups, cotton strength loss should also be related to increased overall microbial activity. The correlation between the abundance of cellulolytic organisms and cotton strength was not significant. Two main factors influenced this relationship: (i) effectiveness of the media in detecting cellulolytic moulds and (ii) inter-community interactions. After accounting for the presence of moulds through partial correlation, the relationship between tensile strength and abundance of cellulolytic organisms was stronger and significant. Both cotton strength and abundance of cellulolytic organisms correlated significantly with general microbial activity. These results support the use of the cotton strip assay, and cotton tensile strength as a surrogate for microbial activity in groundwater. © 2010 CSIRO. Source

Hereward J.P.,University of Queensland | Hereward J.P.,Australian Cotton Research Institute | Debarro P.J.,CSIRO | Walter G.H.,University of Queensland
Bulletin of Entomological Research | Year: 2013

Following the global uptake of transgenic cotton several Hemipteran pests have emerged as primary targets for pesticide control. Previous research on one such emergent pest: the green mirid, Creontiades dilutus, indicated differential use of two crop hosts, cotton (Gossypium hirsutum, Malvaceae) and lucerne (alfalfa) (Medicago sativa, Fabaceae). We tested the hypothesis that this apparent demographic independence of lucerne and cotton inhabiting mirids is the result of cryptic species being associated with these two crops. We assessed gene flow using microsatellite markers across adjacent cotton and lucerne crops at three geographically separated sites (up to 900 km apart). We also analysed the recent feeding behaviour of these insects by amplifying chloroplast markers from their gut contents. We find high gene flow between these two crops (mean pair wise F ST between host plants=0.0141 within localities), and no evidence of cryptic species. Furthermore, the gut analyses revealed evidence of substantial recent movement between these two crops. We discuss the implications of these results for interpreting multiple host use in this species and setting future research priorities for this economically important pest. © Cambridge University Press 2013. Source

Bianchi F.J.J.A.,CSIRO | Bianchi F.J.J.A.,Australian Cotton Research Institute | Schellhorn N.A.,CSIRO | Buckley Y.M.,University of Queensland | And 2 more authors.
Ecological Applications | Year: 2010

Agricultural pest control often relies on the ecosystem services provided by the predators of pests. Appropriate landscape and habitat management for pest control services requires an understanding of insect dispersal abilities and the spatial arrangement of source habitats for pests and their predators. Here we explore how dispersal and habitat configuration determine the locations where management actions are likely to have the biggest impact on natural pest control. The study focuses on the early colonization phase before predator reproduction takes place and when pest populations in crops are still relatively low. We developed a spatially explicit simulation model in which pest populations grow exponentially in pest patches and predators disperse across the landscape from predator patches. We generated 1000 computer-simulated landscapes in which the performance of four typical but different predator groups as biological control agents was evaluated. Predator groups represented trait combinations of poor and good dispersal ability and densityindependent and density-dependent aggregation responses toward pests. Case studies from the literature were used to inform the parameterization of predator groups. Landscapes with a small nearest-neighbor distance between pest and predator patches had the lowest mean pest density at the landscape scale for all predator groups, but there can be high variation in pest density between the patches within these landscapes. Mobile and strongly aggregating predators provide the best pest suppression in the majority of landscape types. Ironically, this result is true except in landscapes with small nearest-neighbor distances between pest and predator patches. The pest control potential of mobile predators can best be explained by the mean distance between a pest patch and all predator patches in the landscape, whereas for poorly dispersing predators the distance between a pest patch and the nearest predator patch is the best explanatory variable. In conclusion, the spatial arrangement of source habitats for natural enemies of agricultural pest species can have profound effects on their potential to colonize crops and suppress pest populations. © 2010 by the Ecological Society of America. Source

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