Genetic Engineering of Predators and Parasitoids for Pesticide Resistance

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Abstract

Genetic selection of phytoseiid predators for pesticide resistance has been shown to be a practical and cost effective tactic for the biological control of spider mites. Field tests have been conducted with several manipulated phytoseiid species and some are being used in integrated pest management programs in agriculture. Development of resistant strains of parasitoids and insect predators currently lags behind efforts with predatory mites, but several laboratory-selected insect natural enemies are being evaluated for incorporation into integrated pest management programs. The use of mutagenesis and recombinant DNA (rDNA) techniques could improve the efficiency of genetic improvement projects. Critical research needs include identifying and cloning useful resistance genes, developing methods for maintaining fitness of the manipulated strains, learning how to manage and maintain released strains, and developing improved methods for inserting resistance genes into the germline of beneficial arthropods. Protocols for evaluating risks associated with the release of arthropod natural enemies that have been manipulated with rDNA methods need to be developed well in advance so that excessive delays in evaluating efficacy and fitness in the field can be avoided.