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Insecticide resistance mechanisms in three sucking insect pests of tea with reference to North-East India: an appraisal

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2013

Dhiraj Saha
Entomology Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of North Bengal, Raja Rammohunpur, Post Office North Bengal University, Siliguri 734 013, District - Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
Ananda Mukhopadhyay
Entomology Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of North Bengal, Raja Rammohunpur, Post Office North Bengal University, Siliguri 734 013, District - Darjeeling, West Bengal, India


Tea is prepared from the tender leaves and buds of Camellia sinensis (L.). In sub-Himalayan tea plantations of North-East India, different management practices are followed to protect the tea crop against different sucking insect pests such as Helopeltis theivora (Hemiptera: Miridae), Empoasca flavescens (Homoptera: Cicadellidae) and Scirtothrips dorsalis (Thysanoptera: Thripidae). Most plantations are managed conventionally through the use of different organo-synthetic insecticides, whereas some are managed organically by using herbal and microbial insecticides. In conventional tea plantations, organo-synthetic insecticides of different functional groups (organochlorines, organophosphates, synthetic pyrethroids and neonicotinoids) are routinely applied round the year to keep the sucking insect pest populations under control. A variety of defence mechanisms, including enzymatic detoxification systems (carboxylesterases, glutathione S-transferases and cytochrome P450 monooxygenases), physiological tolerance and behavioural avoidance, protect insect herbivores from these hazardous compounds. Insect pests have evolved mechanisms to degrade metabolically (enzymatically) or otherwise circumvent the toxic effect of many types of chemicals synthesized as modern insecticides. The extent to which insects can metabolize and thereby degrade these toxic or otherwise detrimental chemicals is of considerable importance for their survival in an unfriendly chemical environment. These mechanisms continue to evolve as insects attempt to colonize new plant species or encounter newer molecules of synthetic insecticides. The level and type of detoxifying mechanisms differs greatly, which, therefore, results in varying toxicity among different stages, species and populations. Variation in detoxifying enzyme activity is responsible, in part, at least for the selective toxicity of different insecticides, the development of resistance to insecticides and the selection of host plants. Overexpression of these detoxifying enzymes, capable of metabolizing insecticides, can result in higher levels of metabolic tolerance/resistance to synthetic insecticides.

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