Bioengineering of crop plants and resistant biotype evolution in insects: Counteracting coevolution

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The use, as opposed to the procurement, of transgenic crop plants is discussed in this paper. Transgenic crop plants must not be used until appropriate strategies for their use have been designed and not before crop plants with a variety of insect defenses have been developed. The use of a crop plant with a single defense will pose as strong a selection pressure as the use of a single synthetic insecticide, since insect herbivores are able to evolve effective counter‐defenses. The defenses of insects in natural plant‐insect associations and with regard to synthetic insecticides are described to demonstrate that there is nothing unique about insecticide resistance. It is the inevitable alternative to local extinction in response to a persistent and predictable selection pressure. Plants counteract insect defensive evolution by keeping the selection pressure as variable as possible. This leads to the conclusion that the best use of biotechnology in crop protection is to reintroduce chemical diversity into crop plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-267
Number of pages15
JournalArchives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Insect Science


  • insecticide resistance evolution
  • insect‐plant associations
  • plant allelochemical defenses

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