Genetics of Insect Resistance to Chemicals

  • Crow J
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Abstract

The wide occurrence in nature of resistant insects after several generations of insecticide application is at once an example of rapid evolution and an economic problem. Heritable resistance has been recognized since 1914 when Melander first asked "Can insects become resistant to sprays?" (82). In the first edition (1937) of his influential book, Genetics and the Origin of Species, Dogzhansky (36) conceded that evolution is ordinarily so slow that changes within a human lifetime cannot be seen in wild species. But he noted as a conspicuous and important exception to this the development of resistance to cyanide sprays by the California red scale, saying "The spread of the resistant strains constitutes probably the best proof of the effectiveness of natural selection yet obtained." Since that time DDT resistance has appeared and has been extensively studied, but all the evidence still supports the original view: Insecticide resistance is an example of evolutionary change, the insecticide acting as a powerful selective sieve for concentrating resistant mutants that were preent in low frequencies in the original population. This review deals only with genetic aspects of resistance. Comprehensive reviews of insecticide resistance in general up to 1951 have been given by Babers & Pratt (2,3) and Brown (10). More recent reviews are also available (23, 40, 47, 48, 51, 56, 84, 85, 119).

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Authors

  • J F Crow

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