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Rapid spread of a densovirus in a major crop pest following wide-scale adoption of bt-cotton in china

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Article numbere66913
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/07/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>eLife
Volume10
Number of pages25
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) crops have been widely planted and the effects of Bt-crops on populations of the target and non-target insect pests have been well studied. However, the effects of Bt-crops exposure on microorganisms that interact with crop pests have not previously been quantified. Here, we use laboratory and field data to show that infection of Helicoverpa armigera with a densovirus (HaDV2) is associated with its enhanced growth and tolerance to Bt-cotton. Moreover, field monitoring showed a much higher incidence of cotton bollworm infection with HaDV2 in regions cultivated with Bt-cotton than in regions without it, with the rate of densovirus infection increasing with increasing use of Bt-cotton. RNA-seq suggested tolerance to both baculovirus and Cry1Ac were enhanced via the immune-related pathways. These findings suggest that exposure to Bt-crops has selected for beneficial interactions between the target pest and a mutualistic microorganism that enhances its performance on Bt-crops under field conditions. © Xiao et al.