Colorado Potato Beetle Resistance to Insecticides

Abstract

The Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say), is widely regarded as the most important insect defoliator of potatoes. Its current range covers about 16 million km2 in North America, Europe, and Asia and continues to expand. This insect has a complicated and diverse life history, which is well-suited to agricultural environments, and makes it a complex and challenging pest to control. Dispersal, closely connected with diapause, feeding, and reproduction, allow the Colorado potato beetle to employ “bet-hedging” reproductive strategies, distributing its offspring in both space (within and between fields) and time (within and between years). The Colorado potato beetle played a large role in creating the modern pesticide industry, with hundreds of chemicals tested against it. High selection pressure, together with natural propensity to adapt to toxic substances, eventually resulted in a large number of insecticide-resistant Colorado potato beetle populations. Since the middle of the last century, the beetle has developed resistance to 52 different compounds belonging to all major insecticide classes. Resistance levels vary greatly among different populations and between beetle life stages, but in some cases can be very high (up to 2,000-fold). Known mechanisms of Colorado potato beetle resistance to insecticides include enhanced metabolism involving esterases, carboxylesterases and monooxygenases, and target site insensitivity, as well as reduced insecticide penetration and increased excretion. There is also some evidence of behavioral resistance. Resistance mechanisms are sometimes highly diverse even within a relatively narrow geographical area. Resistance is usually inherited as an incompletely dominant or incompletely recessive trait, with one or several genes involved in its determination. Because of pleiotropic effects of resistant alleles, insecticide-resistant beetles often have reduced relative fitness in the absence of insecticides. Rotating different classes of insecticides and reducing insecticidal pressure on pest populations by provision of temporal and spatial refuges from exposure to toxins have been proposed to delay evolution of resistance. However, insecticide resistance in this insect will likely remain a major challenge to the pest control practitioners. Still limited understanding of beetle biology, its flexible life history, and grower reluctance to adopt some of the resistance management techniques create impediments to successful resistance management. Overcoming these obstacles is not an easy task, but it will be crucial for sustainable potato production.

Resumen

El escarabajo de Colorado de la papa [(Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say)] es considerado el insecto defoliador más importante de la papa. Su acción cubre una área de 16 millones de km2 en Norteamérica, Europa y Asia y continúa expandiéndose. Este insecto tiene un ciclo de vida complicado y diverso, el cual esta bien adecuado a entornos agrícolas y lo hace una plaga difícil de controlar. Su dispersión, íntimamente conectada con su quiescencia, hábitos de alimentación y reproducción permite al escarabajo de Colorado de la papa emplear estrategias de reproducción de “riesgo calculado”distribuyendo su descendencia en espacio (dentro del campo y entre campos) y tiempo (dentro y entre años). El escarabajo de Colorado de la papa jugó un rol muy amplio en la creación de la industria moderna de pesticidas, con cientos de químicos evaluados para su control. La alta presión de selección, junto a la propensión natural para adaptarse a las sustancias tóxicas, resultó en un gran número de poblaciones resistentes a los insecticidas. Desde mediados del siglo pasado, el escarabajo ha desarrollado resistencia a 52 diferentes compuestos pertenecientes a todas las clases importantes de insecticidas. Los niveles de resistencia varían mucho entre las diferentes poblaciones y estadíos en el ciclo de vida, pero en algunos casos pueden variar mucho más (hasta 2,000 veces). Los mecanismos conocidos de resistencia de este escarabajo a los insecticidas incluyen un elevado metabolismo de las esterasas, carboxilesterasas y monooxigenasas e insensibilidad al sitio objetivo, lo mismo que una penetración del insecticida reducida y excreción incrementada. También hay evidencia de resistencia por comportamiento. Los mecanismos de resistencia son a veces altamente variados, aun dentro de una reducida área geográfica. La resistencia es a menudo heredada como un carácter incompletamente dominante o incompletamente recesivo, con uno o varios genes involucrados en su determinación. Debido a los efectos pleiotrópicos de alelos resistentes, los escarabajos resistentes tienen una aptitud relativa reducida en ausencia de insecticidas. La rotación de diferentes clases de insecticidas y la reducción de la presión insecticida sobre las poblaciones de insectos por provisión de refugios temporales y espaciales contra la exposición de toxinas han sido propuestas para demorar la evolución de la resistencia. Sin embargo, la resistencia a insecticidas de este insecto permanecerá siendo un desafío para los practicantes de control de plagas. Todavía hay un limitado conocimiento sobre la biología del escarabajo, su ciclo de vida flexible y la renuencia del productor para adoptar algunas de las técnicas de manejo de la resistencia impiden el manejo exitoso de la resistencia. El vencer estos obstáculos no es tarea fácil, pero será importante para una producción sostenible de papa.

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Alyokhin, A., Baker, M., Mota-Sanchez, D. et al. Colorado Potato Beetle Resistance to Insecticides. Am. J. Pot Res 85, 395–413 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12230-008-9052-0

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Keywords

  • Leptinotarsa decemlineata
  • Life history
  • Resistance mechanisms
  • Resistance genetics
  • Insecticide resistance management