Please note: this seminar has been cancelled.
Helicoverpa armigera is one of the most significant pests of agriculture across Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe. The recent invasion of H. armigera into South America and detections in North America now make this pest a truly global species. Australia has many decades of experience managing this pest and the recently completed H. armigera and H. zea genomes allow a much more detailed examination of the two species across their native ranges and in the new environment for H. armigera in South America. H. armigera has developed resistance to almost all of the conventional pesticides deployed to control it. Since 1996 genetically modified cotton containing insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis have been introduced. We have recently used resistant lines to identify Bt resistance alleles and have made significant progress in characterising a number of different Bt resistant lines and developing molecular tests. With any pest species, knowledge of the population genetics is vital to understand the movement of the pest; over its geographical range, between host plant species and during incursions into new areas. H. armigera and the closely related New World species, H. zea have been shown to hybridise in the laboratory and are now present in the same environment. We show that the two species are indeed hybridising and that there is currently a ‘hybrid swarm’ where different individuals possess different degrees and locations of hybridisation. The consequences of this are not yet clear but the potential implications for agriculture are discussed.