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Detection of emerging Bt resistance in agricultural pest, Helicoverpa zea, using whole genome resequencing
Megan Fritz - University of Maryland, College Park (Entomology)
Iribe Center, Room 4105 (Zoom link: https://umd.zoom.us/j/97287503999)
Thursday, November 17, 2022, 2:00-3:00 pm Calendar
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Insect adaptation to management tools, or resistance, poses serious challenges to sustainable food production around the globe. Early detection of emerging resistance can trigger efforts to pre-empt widespread damage and preserve management tools. It has been hypothesized that new genomic approaches could track molecular signals of emerging resistance with greater sensitivity than current industry standards. We tested this hypothesis using the North American pest, Helicoverpa zea, as a model, where genome-wide adaptive changes were tracked over a 15 year period concurrent with commercialization and subsequent loss of efficacy of transgenic Bt-expressing crops. Our results demonstrate the complex nature of resistance evolution in agricultural ecosystems and provide insight into the potential and pitfalls of using genomic approaches to track emerging resistance.


Megan Fritz received her Ph.D. from the Michigan State University Department of Entomology and Program in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior in 2011. Her graduate research focused on the study of mosquito behavior and development of vector management strategies to suppress malaria transmission in subSaharan Africa.  In 2012, she transitioned to a postdoc in the Department of Entomology & Program in Genetics at North Carolina State University, where she began applying genomic tools to better understand and detect field-evolved pesticide resistance in agriculturally relevant insect pests. Fritz became an Assistant Professor of integrative arthropod biology at the University of Maryland in 2016. Here, she studies insect evolution in response to human-imposed environmental change. While her tenure home is in Entomology, she participates in the Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Genomics graduate program in BISI and is an affiliate of UMIACS. 

This talk is organized by Erin Molloy