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Department of Entomology
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Entomology: Bruce Tabashnik

Professor, Department Head

B.S. Zoology, University of Michigan
Ph.D., Biological Sciences, Stanford University

My research team studies the evolution and management of insect resistance to insecticides and transgenic plants. Current work focuses on evolution of resistance to insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Widespread use of transgenic corn and cotton that produce Bt toxins has increased the chances that pests will evolve resistance. Since 1997, Bt cotton has accounted for more than half of Arizona's 300,000 acres of cotton, which provides exceptional opportunities for field and laboratory research. Specific projects now underway include analyses of the genetics and ecology of pink bollworm resistance to Bt cotton, impact of Bt cotton on non-target insects, and effects of pollen-mediated gene flow from Bt crops to non-Bt crops. Progress is facilitated by synergistic collaborations that benefit from expertise in molecular and population genetics, ecology, modeling, and pest management.

As Department Head, my goal is to strengthen departmental programs to serve our three-fold mission: 1) to conduct research to better understand insects and their impact on humanity, 2) to provide distinguished education in all aspects of insect biology, and 3) to disseminate information about insects to improve the quality of life of the people of Arizona and the world.

Selected Publications:

Crowder DW, Ellers-Kirk C, Yafuso CM, Dennehy TJ, Degain BA, Harpold VS, Tabashnik BE, Carrière Y. 2008. Inheritance of resistance to pyriproxyfen in Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) males and females (B biotype). J Econ Entomol, 101:927-32.

Heuberger S, Ellers-Kirk C, Yafuso C, Gassmann AJ, Tabashnik BE, Dennehy TJ, Carrière Y. 2008. Effects of refuge contamination by transgenes on Bt resistance in pink bollworm (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). J Econ Entomol, 101:504-14.

Marvier M, Carrière Y, Ellstrand N, Gepts P, Kareiva P, Rosi-Marshall E, Tabashnik BE, Wolfenbarger LL. 2008. Ecology. Harvesting data from genetically engineered crops. Science, 320:452-3.

Tabashnik BE, Gassmann AJ, Crowder DW, Carriére Y. 2008. Insect resistance to Bt crops: evidence versus theory. Nat Biotechnol, 26:199-202.

Soberón M, Pardo-López L, López I, Gómez I, Tabashnik BE, Bravo A. 2007. Engineering modified Bt toxins to counter insect resistance. Science, 318:1640-2.

Crowder DW, Dennehy TJ, Ellers-Kirk C, Yafuso LC, Ellsworth PC, Tabashnik BE, Carriere Y. 2007. Field evaluation of resistance to pyriproxyfen in Bemisia tabaci (B biotype). J Econ Entomol, 100:1650-6.

Heckel DG, Gahan LJ, Baxter SW, Zhao JZ, Shelton AM, Gould F, Tabashnik BE. 2007. The diversity of Bt resistance genes in species of Lepidoptera. J Invertebr Pathol, 95:192-7.

Sisterson MS, Carrière Y, Dennehy TJ, Tabashnik BE. 2007. Nontarget effects of transgenic insecticidal crops: implications of source-sink population dynamics. Environ Entomol, 36:121-7 .

Fabrick JA, Tabashnik BE. 2007. Binding of Bacillus thuringiensis toxin Cry1Ac to multiple sites of cadherin in pink bollworm. Insect Biochem Mol Biol, 37:97-106.

Tabashnik BE, Fabrick JA, Henderson S, Biggs RW, Yafuso CM, Nyboer ME, Manhardt NM, Coughlin LA, Sollome J, Carrière Y, Dennehy TJ, Morin S. 2006. DNA screening reveals pink bollworm resistance to Bt cotton remains rare after a decade of exposure. J Econ Entomol, 99:1525-30.

Crowder DW, Carrière Y, Tabashnik BE, Ellsworth PC, Dennehy TJ. 2006. Modeling evolution of resistance to pyriproxyfen by the sweetpotato whitefly (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). J Econ Entomol, 99:1396-406.

Ferry N, Mulligan EA, Stewart CN, Tabashnik BE, Port GR, Gatehouse AM. 2006. Prey-mediated effects of transgenic canola on a beneficial, non-target, carabid beetle. Transgenic Res, 15:501-14.

Carrière Y, Nyboer ME, Ellers-Kirk C, Sollome J, Colletto N, Antilla L, Dennehy TJ, Staten RT, Tabashnik BE. 2006. Effect of resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis cotton on pink bollworm (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) response to sex pheromone. J Econ Entomol, 99:946-53.

Gassmann AJ, Stock SP, Carrière Y, Tabashnik BE. 2006. Effect of entomopathogenic nematodes on the fitness cost of resistance to Bt toxin crylac in pink bollworm (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). J Econ Entomol, 99:920-6.

Alves AP, Spencer TA, Tabashnik BE, Siegfried BD. 2006. Inheritance of resistance to the Cry1Ab Bacillus thuringiensis toxin in Ostrinia nubilalis (Lepidoptera: Crambidae). J Econ Entomol, 99:494-501.

Tabashnik BE, Biggs RW, Fabrick JA, Gassmann AJ, Dennehy TJ, Carrière Y, Morin S. 2006. High-level resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis toxin crylac and cadherin genotype in pink bollworm. J Econ Entomol, 99:2125-31.

Carrière Y, Ellers-Kirk C, Biggs RW, Nyboer ME, Unnithan GC, Dennehy TJ, Tabashnik BE. 2006. Cadherin-based resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis cotton in hybrid strains of pink bollworm: fitness costs and incomplete resistance. J Econ Entomol, 99:1925-35.

Carrière Y, Ellers-Kirk C, Kumar K, Heuberger S, Whitlow M, Antilla L, Dennehy TJ, Tabashnik BE. 2005. Long-term evaluation of compliance with refuge requirements for Bt cotton. Pest Manag Sci, 61:327-30.

Carrière Y, Ellers-Kirk C, Biggs R, Degain B, Holley D, Yafuso C, Evans P, Dennehy TJ, Tabashnik BE. 2005. Effects of cotton cultivar on fitness costs associated with resistance of pink bollworm (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) to Bt cotton. J Econ Entomol, 98:947-54.

Tabashnik BE, Biggs RW, Higginson DM, Henderson S, Unnithan DC, Unnithan GC, Ellers-Kirk C, Sisterson MS, Dennehy TJ, Carriere Y, Morin S. 2005. Association between resistance to Bt cotton and cadherin genotype in pink bollworm. J Econ Entomol, 98:635-44.

Baxter SW, Zhao JZ, Gahan LJ, Shelton AM, Tabashnik BE, Heckel DG. 2005. Novel genetic basis of field-evolved resistance to Bt toxins in Plutella xylostella. Insect Mol Biol, 14:327-34.

Higginson DM, Morin S, Nyboer ME, Biggs RW, Tabashnik BE, Carrière Y. 2005. Evolutionary trade-offs of insect resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis crops: fitness cost affecting paternity. Evolution, 59:915-20.

Tabashnik BE, Dennehy TJ, Carrière Y. 2005. Delayed resistance to transgenic cotton in pink bollworm. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 102:15389-93.

Sisterson MS, Carrière Y, Dennehy TJ, Tabashnik BE. 2005. Evolution of resistance to transgenic crops: interactions between insect movement and field distribution. J Econ Entomol, 98:1751-62.

Department of Entomology at the University of Arizona
Forbes 410, PO Box 210036, Tucson, AZ 85721-0036
Phone: (520) 621-1151 • Fax: (520) 621-1150 • E-mail:

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College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Arizona Cooperative Extension