Crossley MS, Chen YH, Groves RL, Schoville SD. Mol Ecol. 2017;26(22):6284-6300. doi: 10.1111/mec.14339.

The ability of insect pests to rapidly and repeatedly adapt to insecticides has long challenged entomologists and evolutionary biologists. Since Crow's seminal paper on insecticide resistance in 1957, new data and insights continue to emerge that are relevant to the old questions about how insecticide resistance evolves: such as whether it is predominantly mono- or polygenic, and evolving from standing vs. de novo genetic variation. Many studies support the monogenic hypothesis, and current management recommendations assume single- or two-locus models. But inferences could be improved by integrating data from a broader sample of pest populations and genomes. Here, we generate evidence relevant to these questions by applying a landscape genomics framework to the study of insecticide resistance in a major agricultural pest, Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say). Genome-environment association tests using genomic variation from 16 populations spanning gradients of landscape variables associated with insecticide exposure over time revealed 42 strong candidate insecticide resistance genes, with potentially overlapping roles in multiple resistance mechanisms. Measurements of resistance to a widely used insecticide, imidacloprid, among 47 L. decemlineata populations revealed heterogeneity at a small (2 km) scale and no spatial signature of origin or spread throughout the landscape. Analysis of nucleotide diversity suggested candidate resistance loci have undergone varying degrees of selective sweeps, often maintaining similar levels of nucleotide diversity to neutral loci. This study suggests that many genes are involved in insecticide resistance in L. decemlineata and that resistance likely evolves from both de novo and standing genetic variation.

Yoon J, Mogilicherla K, Gurusamy D, Chen X, Chereddy, S. C. R. R., Palli SR.  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018;115(33):8334-8339. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1809381115.

RNA interference (RNAi) is being used to develop methods to control pests and disease vectors. RNAi is robust and systemic in coleopteran insects but is quite variable in other insects. The determinants of efficient RNAi in coleopterans, as well as its potential mechanisms of resistance, are not known. RNAi screen identified a double-stranded RNA binding protein (StaufenC) as a major player in RNAi. StaufenC homologs have been identified in only coleopteran insects. Experiments in two coleopteran insects, Leptinotarsa decemlineata and Tribolium castaneum, showed the requirement of StaufenC for RNAi, especially for processing of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) to small interfering RNA. RNAi-resistant cells were selected by exposing L. decemlineata, Lepd-SL1 cells to the inhibitor of apoptosis 1 dsRNA for multiple generations. The resistant cells showed lower levels of StaufenC expression compared with its expression in susceptible cells. These studies showed that coleopteran-specific StaufenC is required for RNAi and is a potential target for RNAi resistance. The data included in this article will help improve RNAi in noncoleopteran insects and manage RNAi resistance in coleopteran insects.

Kitaev, K. A., I. S. Mardanshin, E. V.  Surina, T. L. Leontieva, M. B. Udalov, and G. V. Benkovskaya. Russ J Genet Appl Res (2017) 7: 36. doi:10.1134/S2079059717010063

The main approach to pest control consists in the application of chemical insecticides. The efficacy of insecticides is reduced due to the development of resistance by pest populations. This is an especially important problem with the Colorado potato beetle. There are different strategies for the use of insecticides to slow the formation of resistance. Based on the results of long-term studies, we propose a hypothesis on delaying the development of resistance by applying insecticides at low doses. To test this hypothesis, we built predictive discrete genetic models of resistance in the Colorado potato beetle populations. The model based on the classical equations of population genetics has been supplemented by various factors. Calculations of the survival rates of individuals of the Colorado potato beetle were carried out taking into account the statistical regularities of the distribution of toxic substance after treatment by insecticides. We calculated the survival rates for different genotypes using a lognormal distribution after at least doubling the insecticide dose. The factor of differential mortality during winter was additionally introduced into the model. The use of phenetic markers of nonspecific resistance to environmental factors allowed us to compute the model with mediated intergenic interactions. Various hypotheses on the strategies of overcoming resistance have been tested using this model. The calculations demonstrated that use of insecticides at the minimum effective dose (low dose) leads to a slower increase in the proportion of resistant individuals in the populations of the Colorado potato beetle for two seasons. Resistance develops much more slowly following alternate treatment with insecticides from different chemical classes. The best strategy is through off-season treatment with lower doses of insecticides of different chemical classes.

Kalsi, M. and S. R. Palli. 2017. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 83: 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ibmb.2017.02.002

Colorado potato beetle (CPB), Leptinotarsa decemlineata is a notorious pest of potato. Co-evolution with Solanaceae plants containing high levels of toxins (glycoalkaloids) helped this insect to develop an efficient detoxification system and resist almost every chemical insecticide introduced for its control. Even though the cross-resistance between plant allelochemicals and insecticides is well acknowledged, the underlying molecular mechanisms are not understood. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanisms involved in detoxification of potato plant allelochemicals and imidacloprid resistance in the field-collected CPB. Our results showed that the imidacloprid-resistant beetles employ metabolic detoxification of both potato plant allelochemicals and imidacloprid by upregulation of common cytochrome P450 genes. RNAi aided knockdown identified four cytochromes P450 genes (CYP6BJa/b, CYP6BJ1v1, CYP9Z25, and CYP9Z29) that are required for defense against both natural and synthetic chemicals. These P450 genes are regulated by the xenobiotic transcription factors Cap n Collar C, CncC and muscle aponeurosis fibromatosis, Maf. Studies on the CYP9Z25 promoter using the luciferase reporter assay identified two binding sites (i.e. GCAGAAT and GTACTGA) for CncC and Maf. Overall, these data showed that CPB employs the metabolic resistance mediated through xenobiotic transcription factors CncC and Maf to regulate multiple P450 genes and detoxify both imidacloprid and potato plant allelochemicals.

Spit, J., A. Philips, N. Wynant, D. Santos, G. Plaetinck, J. Vanden Broeck.  Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 81: 103-116, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ibmb.2017.01.004

The responsiveness towards orally delivered dsRNA and the potency of a subsequent environmental RNA interference (RNAi) response strongly differs between different insect species. While some species are very sensitive to dsRNA delivery through the diet, others are not. The underlying reasons for this may vary, but degradation of dsRNA by nucleases in the gut lumen is believed to play a crucial role. The Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, is a voracious defoliator of potato crops worldwide, and is currently under investigation for novel control methods based on dsRNA treatments. Here we describe the identification and characterization of two nuclease genes exclusively expressed in the gut of this pest species. Removal of nuclease activity in adults increased the sensitivity towards dsRNA and resulted in improved protection of potato plants. A similar strategy in the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, for which we show a far more potent nuclease activity in the gut juice, did however not lead to an improvement of the RNAi response. Possible reasons for this are discussed. Taken together, the present data confirm a negative effect of nucleases in the gut on the environmental RNAi response, and further suggest that interfering with this activity is a strategy worth pursuing for improving RNAi efficacy in insect pest control applications.