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Stewardship of neonicotinoid insecticides - LK0953

The invention and commercial development of neonicotinoid insecticides has provided agriculture with valuable new tools for controlling some of the UK’s most troublesome crop pests. Insect groups targeted by neonicotinoids – primarily aphids in the UK – include species with a long history of resistance to earlier used insecticides, but against which neonicotinoids remain fully effective. However, the extent to which immidacloprid, the commercial forerunner of neonicotinoids, has been incorporated into control strategies has raised concerns over the possible development of neonicotinoid resistance. The ongoing introduction of other neonicotinoids for an increasing range of crops seem likely to accentuate risks of resistance to this class of compounds. Building on a previous SA-LINK project (LK0903 – ‘Combating insecticide resistance in peach-potato aphids in the UK’) this work aims to investigate the incidence and dynamics of any aphid resistance to neonicotinoids already present in the UK, determine conditions under which resistance is most likely to be selected, and formulate recommendations for deploying these compounds in as sustainable a manner as possible. It will focus on the peach-potato aphid (Myzus persicae Sulzer), which has proved the greatest aphid resistance problem on arable crops in the past, and which already shows variation in response to neonicotinoids. Laboratory experiments will determine the cross-resistance characteristics of resistant clones, and examine how operational factors including the rate and persistence of applications influence the survival and reproduction of susceptible and resistant clones. Structured monitoring of field populations will investigate temporal and spatial variation in susceptibility and relate this to the intensity of neonicotinoid use. Experimental work will be undertaken by Rothamsted Research and ADAS. Industrial participants include both of the companies involved in the commercial development of neonicotinoids in the UK (Bayer CropScience and Syngenta) and Commodity Groups (BBRO and BPC). Government sponsorship is through Defra – PSD. This partnership will ensure continuing relevance of the work to industrial and regulatory requirements, and facilitate the syntheses of results into usage recommendations that will be disseminated widely through the trade press, scientific journals, the Insecticide Resistance Action Group (IRAG-UK) and other outlets.
11.1 Scientific objective(s)
1. Detailed characterisation of M. persicae clones that already show tolerance to neonicotinoid insecticides.
2. Structured monitoring for spatial and temporal variation in susceptibility of M. persicae in localities and cropping systems with contrasting levels of exposure to neonicotinoids.
3. Laboratory analyses of how operational factors affect the survival and reproduction of susceptible and tolerant aphid clones on different crops (to anticipate selection pressures).
4. Development and dissemination of recommendations for the sustainable use of neonicotinoid insecticides in the UK.
11.2 Interdependence of objectives
Objectives 1 and 2 are independent. Work on Objective 3 can proceed with clones already in culture at Rothamsted but will also encompass any showing more significant resistance that are isolated under Objective 2. Objective 4 will draw on information gained from work on all other objectives
11.3 Chances of achieving objectives
Rothamsted Research is a world leader in work to analyse and combat aphid resistance. The project will exploit established methodology for quantifying responses of aphids to neonicotinoids, which has already been used to isolate clones showing tolerance to imidacloprid. Field simulator technology for analysing the life-history traits of aphids exposed to neonicotinoid treatments is also well established, as are diagnostic techniques for existing resistance mechanisms. ADAS staff are highly skilled in field monitoring and sampling of aphids, and procedures for transferring samples to Rothamsteed are already in routine use. All the objectives therefore build on established techniques, expertise and experience.
11.4 Factors, specific to the project, which might delay achieving the objective(s)
Objective 2, like all field monitoring studies, is subject to the vagaries of climate and variation in aphid pest pressures from year to year. Localities to be sampled systematically will be chosen with care to ensure that sufficient effort can be invested in sampling even at low aphid densities, and that treatment histories are available for neonicotinoids and other insecticides.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2008

Cost: £232,474
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Syngenta, Bayer UK Ltd, British Beet Research Organisation, British Potato Council, Rothamsted Research (BBSRC)
Arable Farming              
Crop Diseases              
LINK Programme              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Fields of Study
Arable Crops