Pyramids of QTLs enhance host–plant resistance and Bt-mediated resistance to leaf-chewing insects in soybean
The crystal proteins coded by transgenes from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) have shown considerable value in providing effective insect resistance in a number of crop species, including soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr. Additional sources of soybean insect resistance would be desirable to manage the development of tolerance/resistance to crystal proteins by defoliating insects and to sustain the deployment of Bt crops. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects and interactions of three insect resistance quantitative trait loci (QTLs; QTL-M, QTL-H, and QTL-G) originating from Japanese soybean PI 229358 and a cry1Ac gene in a “Benning” genetic background. A set of 16 BC6F2-derived near isogenic lines (NILs) was developed using marker-assisted backcrosses and evaluated for resistance to soybean looper [SBL, Pseudoplusia includens (Walker)] and corn earworm [CEW, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie)] in field cage, greenhouse, and detached leaf assays. Both Bt and QTL-M had significantly reduced defoliation by both SBL and CEW and reduced larval weight of CEW. The antibiosis QTL-G had a significant effect on reducing CEW larval weight and also a significant effect on reducing defoliation by SBL and CEW in some assays. The antixenosis QTL-H had no main effect, but it appeared to function through interaction with QTL-M and QTL-G. Adding QTL-H and QTL-G further enhanced the resistance of the Bt and QTL-M combination to CEW in the field cage assay. These results should help guide the development of strategies for effective management of insect pests and for sustainable deployment of Bt genes.