Using Drosophila melanogaster to validate metabolism-based insecticide resistance from insect pests

Phillip J. Daborn, Christopher Lumb, Thomas W.R. Harrop, Alex Blasetti, Shivani Pasricha, Shai Morin, Sara N. Mitchell, Martin J. Donnelly, Pie Müller, Philip Batterham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Identifying molecular mechanisms of insecticide resistance is important for preserving insecticide efficacy, developing new insecticides and implementing insect control. The metabolic detoxification of insecticides is a widespread resistance mechanism. Enzymes with the potential to detoxify insecticides are commonly encoded by members of the large cytochrome P450, glutathione S-transferase and carboxylesterase gene families, all rapidly evolving in insects. Here, we demonstrate that the model insect Drosophila melanogaster is useful for functionally validating the role of metabolic enzymes in conferring metabolism-based insecticide resistance. Alleles of three well-characterized genes from different pest insects were expressed in transgenic D. melanogaster: a carboxylesterase gene (α. E7) from the Australian sheep blowfly Lucilia cuprina, a glutathione S-transferase gene (. GstE2) from the mosquito Anopheles gambiae and a cytochrome P450 gene (. Cyp6cm1) from the whitefly Bemisia tabaci. For all genes, expression in D. melanogaster resulted in insecticide resistance phenotypes mirroring those observed in resistant populations of the pest species. Using D. melanogaster to assess the potential for novel metabolic resistance mechanisms to evolve in pest species is discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)918-924
Number of pages7
JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding from the Australian Research Council through the Discovery scheme ( DP1095295 ), ARC Australian Research Fellowship to PJD (DP0772003) and a BBSRC studentship to SNM is acknowledged. Drosophila services and stocks were provided by The Australian Drosophila Research Support Facility ( ).


  • Carboxylesterase
  • Cytochrome P450
  • Glutathione S-transferase
  • Insecticide resistance


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