Transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) crops play an increasing role in pest control, and resistance management is a major issue in large-scale cultivation of Bt crops. The fitness cost of resistance in targeted pests is considered to be one of the main factors delaying resistance when using the refuge strategy. By comparing 10 resistant Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner) strains, showing various resistance levels to Bt toxin (Cry1Ac), to a susceptible strain, we showed an increasing fitness cost corresponding with increasing levels of resistance. The relationship between overall fitness cost C and the resistance ratio R r could be described by C = 24.47/(1 + exp([1.57 - Log 10 R r ]/0.2)). This model predicted that the maximum overall fitness cost would be ∼24% (±5.22) in the strains with the highest resistance level. The overall fitness cost was closely linked to egg hatching rate, fecundity, emergence rate, larval survival rate, and developmental duration of adults. Among fitness components measured, fecundity was the most sensitive trait linked to the resistance selection. To integrate the results into simulation models would be valuable in evaluating how variation in fitness cost may influence the development of resistance in pest populations, thus helping to develop enhanced refuge strategies.
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