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The worrying emergence of insecticide resistance in crop pests

The worrying emergence of insecticide resistance in crop pests - 12 June 2013. Rothamsted Research
News from: Rothamsted Research

Scientists at Rothamsted Research have today highlighted the worrying emergence of resistance to pyrethroid insecticides in grain aphids and the implications this may have for controlling Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV). Using their state-of-the-art diagnostic approaches the team at Rothamsted, who receive strategic funding from BBSRC, have identified the underlying mechanisms of this resistance, with a view to developing new advice and technologies to ensure farmers are able to continue protecting their crops against damage and disease.

Graph showing the rise of aphid resistance over the last three years at different research centres. Image: Rothamsted Research
Graph showing the rise of aphid resistance over the last three years at different research centres. Image: Rothamsted Research

The grain aphid, Sitobion avenae is an important pest of wheat and barley, reducing grain yield by transmitting Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV). Until recently, growers had good control of this pest with pyrethroids. However, during summer 2011 there were reports of control failures which prompted Rothamsted scientists to test aphid samples for resistance to pyrethroids using scientific techniques such as topical bioassays and DNA diagnostics.

These techniques have allowed the Rothamsted scientists to look for a genetic mutation which occurs in other insect pests and is known to cause insecticide resistance. The target-site mutation, called "kdr", was identified in the grain aphid samples which were obtained from the Insect Survey, that Rothamsted Research has been running for nearly 50 years. The sample testing was funded by HGCA.

If farmers are to control for this alarming increase in aphid resistance then Professor Lin Field, Lead researcher at Rothamsted said "continued resistance monitoring is essential and growers will need rapid and clear feedback". She added "alternatives to pyrethroids also need to be evaluated in anticipation of increased resistance causing widespread spray failures and greater BYDV problems."

The scientific analysis conducted at Rothamsted has shown that the mutation was present in 2012 in some areas at high frequency (>50%) and was also present at low levels in 2009 but appeared to take hold in 2011 when pyrethroid control failures were first reported.

Rothamsted Research will be giving a press briefing on stand 10-J-1006 at the Cereals Event between 9.30 and 10.00 Wednesday 12 June 2013.

ENDS

About Rothamsted Research


Rothamsted Research, the longest running agricultural research station in the world, has provided cutting-edge science and innovation for over 160 years. It receives strategic funding from BBSRC to deliver the knowledge and new practices to increase crop productivity and quality and to develop environmentally sustainable solutions for food and energy production.

About BBSRC

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £500M (2012-2013), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk .
For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/institutes .