African Journal of Biotechnology

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Gene pyramiding as a Bt resistance management strategy: How sustainable is this strategy?

W Manyangarirwa, M Turnbull, GS McCutcheon, JP Smith


Reports on the emergence of insect resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis delta endotoxins have raised
doubts on the sustainability of Bt-toxin based pest management technologies. Corporate industry has responded to this challenge with innovations that include gene pyramiding among others. Pyramiding
entails stacking multiple genes leading to the simultaneous expression of more than one toxin in a transgenic variety. Questions have been raised on the sustainability of gene pyramiding since the use of insecticide mixtures has shown that cross resistance and/or multiple resistance can render such strategies to be less effective in the long term. Current theoretical and practical evidence in insect population genetics suggest that gene pyramiding cannot be sustained as a resistance management strategy per se. Pyramiding is useful as a strategy to broaden the range of insect pests controlled in each transgenic variety, and it still has to be deployed in tandem with Bt resistance management strategies such as crop refugia, biological pest control, temporal and spatial crop rotations among others

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