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Combating insecticide resistance in the tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta


The tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta is an economically important insect pest of tomato production worldwide. This invasive species is a relatively recent introduction to the UK but since 2009 has become a growing problem to British tomato growers. Control of this species worldwide relies on the use of chemical insecticides and this is also true of the UK where two insecticides (spinosad and chlorantraniliprole) are used in combination with a biological control agent in an integrated pest management (IPM) programme. Recently, there have been reports of resistance development to both compounds in T. absoluta populations in Europe, and loss of efficacy reported to spinosad by certain growers in the UK. The aim of this proposed studentship is to build on this work and our previous research to understand the risk of resistance development in UK populations of T. absoluta and the mechanisms underlying resistance in UK and European populations. Insecticide bioassays and DNA-based diagnostics will be used to characterise the current status of resistance in the UK and the situation monitored over the life of the project. The molecular basis of resistance in European and UK populations will be characterised using a range of molecular approaches. Finally this knowledge will be translated into practical tools and solutions that can be used to prevent, slow, or overcome resistance. The project will be carried out in close collaboration with the British Tomato Growers Association who represent over 90% of the British Tomato industry.

Chris Bass
University of Exeter
Start date
End date
Project number
CP 162