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Surprise in the organic orchard -- a healthier worm in the apple
Date:9/28/2007

omosome. Female caterpillars need only a single copy of the resistance gene to be nearly 100,000 times less susceptible to granulovirus infection. They stay healthy and survive to reproduce, when most others have been killed.

Sons from matings between these highly resistant females and susceptible males carry a virus resistance gene on just one of their two Z chromosomes. "Our research has shown that such males can pupate normally if they encounter a low dose of the virus" reports Dr. Johannes Jehle of the DLR Rheinpfalz. They survive and pass on their resistance gene to the next generation. "In later generations, there are also males carrying the resistance gene on both Z chromosomes, and these can survive even higher virus concentrations" explains the leader of the research team.

"This means of inheritance offers the quickest possible way for the insects to evolve resistance" says Prof. David Heckel of the MPICE. "If the apple grower increases virus applications to try to control the damage caused by the resistant population, the opposite results. Selection for resistance accelerates and the frequency of the gene on the Z-chromosome increases even faster in the population."

Jehle and his colleagues are planning for the future in response to this alarming result. In parallel with the inheritance studies, several new isolates of the codling moth granulovirus have been screened since 2006 for their ability to overcome the resistance. In 2007, extensive field tests in Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland have been conducted with the most promising viruses. But even if new virus varieties can overcome the Z-linked resistance, the authors caution that their successful use in the longer term will depend on resistance management strategies, similar to those now routinely used for chemical insecticides.


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Contact: David Heckel
heckle@ice.mpg.de
0049-364-157-1500
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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