, Volume 112-113, Issue 1, pp 287-296

Insecticide resistance in the mosquito Culex pipiens: what have we learned about adaptation?

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Abstract

Resistance to organophosphate (OP) insecticide in the mosquito Culex pipiens has been studied for ca. 30 years. This example of micro-evolution has been thoroughly investigated as an opportunity to assess precisely both the new adapted phenotypes and the associated genetic changes. A notable feature is that OP resistance is achieved with few genes, and these genes have generally large effects. The molecular events generating such resistance genes are complex (e.g., gene amplification, gene regulation) potentially explaining their low frequency of de novo occurrence. In contrast, migration is a frequent event, including passive transportation between distant populations. This generates a complex interaction between mutations and migration, and promotes competition among resistance alleles. When the precise physiological action of each gene product is rather well known, it is possible to understand the dominance level or the type of epistasis observed. It is however difficult to predict a priori how resistance genes will interact, and it is too early to state whether or not this will be ever possible. These resistance genes are costly, and the cost is variable among them. It is usually believed that the initial fitness cost would gradually decrease due to subsequent mutations with a modifier effect. In the present example, a particular modifier occurred (a gene duplication) at one resistance locus, whereas at the other one reduction of cost is driven by allele replacement and apparently not by selection of modifiers.