Selective sweeps in a nutshell: the genomic footprint of rapid insecticide resistance evolution in the almond agroecosystem

Bernarda Calla, Mark Demkovich, Joel P Siegel, João Paulo Gomes Viana, Kim K O Walden, Hugh M Robertson, May R Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Among the most familiar forms of human-driven evolution on ecological time scales is the rapid acquisition of resistance to pesticides by insects. Since the widespread adoption of synthetic organic insecticides in the mid-twentieth century, over 500 arthropod species have evolved resistance to at least one insecticide. Efforts to determine the genetic bases of insecticide resistance have historically focused on individual loci, but the availability of genomic tools has facilitated the screening of genome-wide characteristics. We re-sequenced three contemporary populations of the navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella), the principal pest of almond orchards in California, differing in bifenthrin resistance status to examine insecticide-induced changes in the population genomic landscape of this species. We detected an exceptionally large region with virtually no polymorphisms, extending to up to 1.3 Mb in the resistant population. This selective sweep includes genes associated with pyrethroid and DDT resistance, including a cytochrome P450 gene cluster and the gene encoding the voltage-gated sodium channel para. Moreover, the sequence along the sweep is nearly identical in the genome assembled from a population founded in 1966, suggesting that the foundation for insecticide resistance may date back a half-century, when California's Central Valley experienced massive area-wide applications of DDT for pest control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberevaa234
JournalGenome biology and evolution
Issue number1
Early online dateNov 4 2020
StatePublished - Jan 7 2021


  • convergent evolution
  • evolutionary rescue
  • nucleotide diversity
  • pesticide
  • population genomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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