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Pyramiding Bt genes for increasing resistance of cotton to two major lepidopteran pests: Spodoptera litura and Heliothis armigera


To more effectively control two major cotton insects (cotton bollworm and Spodoptera litura) and improve the efficacy of the pest resistance management, novel transgenic plants expressing Bacillus thuringiensis Cry9C gene were generated, and gene stacking strategy was incorporated. Initially, a binary plasmid vector harboring Cry9C gene was introduced into an elite cotton cultivar Simian-3 by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Integration and expression of the Cry9C genes in three transgenic lines were confirmed by PCR and RT-PCR. Among these transgenic lines, T0 generation of line 16 (L-16) with normal phenotypes were selected by ELISA assays for its highest expression level of Cry9C. In T1 population of L-16, the expression level of Cry9C ranged from 29 to 45 μg/g fresh leaf. The following insect bioassays demonstrated that transgenic S3-35S::Cry9C cotton plants exhibited moderate toxicity to Heliothis armigera but strong toxicity to S. litura compared with the transgenic plants expressing Cry 1Ac gene. For incorporation of gene staking strategy, Cry9C gene and Cry 2A or Cry 1Ac were pyramided, respectively by sexual crossing. The expression of Cry9C protein in all F1 progenies had a similar level as the parent plants indicating the high heritability of Bt genes in transgenic progenies. Progenies from both Cry9C × Cry 2A and Cry9C × Cry 1Ac exhibited higher resistance to S. litura compared with their parents. Together our data demonstrated that our newly generated transgenic plants represent a reservoir of novel insect-resistant materials in cotton breeding, and the successful incorporation of gene pyramiding technology can provide a new solution of developing multiple resistance management strategies.

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The work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31171592 and 31371673) and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2013PY064) to Dr. Jin.

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Correspondence to Shuangxia Jin.

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Communicated by T. Moriguchi.

L. Li and Y. Zhu contributed equally to this paper.

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Li, L., Zhu, Y., Jin, S. et al. Pyramiding Bt genes for increasing resistance of cotton to two major lepidopteran pests: Spodoptera litura and Heliothis armigera . Acta Physiol Plant 36, 2717–2727 (2014).

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  • Cotton
  • Cry9C protein
  • Spodoptera litura
  • Insect bioassay