The Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) voltage-gated sodium channel and mutations associated with pyrethroid resistance in field-collected adult males. Academic Article uri icon


  • Helicoverpa zea is one of the most costly insect pests of food and fiber crops throughout the Americas. Pyrethroid insecticides are widely applied for its control as they are effective and relatively inexpensive; however, resistance to pyrethroids threatens agricultural systems sustainability because alternative insecticides are often more expensive or less effective. Although pyrethroid resistance has been identified in this pest since 1990, the mechanisms of resistance have not yet been elucidated at the molecular level. Pyrethroids exert their toxicity by prolonging the open state of the voltage-gated sodium channel. Here we report the cDNA sequence of the H. zea sodium channel alpha-subunit homologous to the para gene from Drosophila melanogaster. In field-collected males which were resistant to cypermethrin as determined by the adult vial test, we identify known resistance-conferring mutations L1029H and V421M, along with two novel mutations at the V421 residue, V421A and V421G. An additional mutation, I951V, may be the first example of a pyrethroid resistance mutation caused by RNA editing. Identification of the sodium channel cDNA sequence will allow for testing hypotheses on target-site resistance for insecticides acting on this channel through modeling and expression studies. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for resistance will greatly improve our ability to identify and predict resistance, as well as preserve susceptibility to pyrethroid insecticides.

published proceedings

  • Insect Biochem Mol Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Hopkins, B. W., & Pietrantonio, P. V.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Hopkins, BW||Pietrantonio, PV

publication date

  • January 2010