Mechanisms of Resistance to Insecticidal Proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis

Annu Rev Entomol. 2021 Jan 7:66:121-140. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-052620-073348.


Insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are used in sprayable formulations or produced in transgenic crops as the most successful alternatives to synthetic pesticides. The most relevant threat to sustainability of Bt insecticidal proteins (toxins) is the evolution of resistance in target pests. To date, high-level resistance to Bt sprays has been limited to one species in the field and another in commercial greenhouses. In contrast, there are currently seven lepidopteran and one coleopteran species that have evolved practical resistance to transgenic plants producing insecticidal Bt proteins. In this article, we present a review of the current knowledge on mechanisms of resistance to Bt toxins, with emphasis on key resistance genes and field-evolved resistance, to support improvement of Bt technology and its sustainability.

Keywords: Bacillus thuringiensis; Cry protein; Vip3 protein; receptor; resistance mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Bacillus thuringiensis Toxins*
  • Bacterial Proteins*
  • Endotoxins*
  • Hemolysin Proteins*
  • Insect Control
  • Insecta / genetics*
  • Insecticide Resistance / genetics


  • Bacillus thuringiensis Toxins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Endotoxins
  • Hemolysin Proteins
  • Vip3A protein, Bacillus thuringiensis
  • insecticidal crystal protein, Bacillus Thuringiensis