Is Accelerating Insects Ability To Develop Pesticide Resistance Genetic Engineering

Robert Zwilling

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It is recommended to use physical solutions, such as bug vacuums, as well as chemicals to contain cockroach populations

Cockroaches are able to develop resistance to pesticides they haven't been exposed to. They are developing a genetic mechanism that works in a generic fashion against specific pesticides. Human ignorance knows no bounds and will continue to create an environment that is not friendly to human beings as we continue to create a virtual environment that is supposedly a more comfortable place for people to exist.

Cockroaches won't be the only insects doing this and probably other species are already capable of this but because money always determines what we do and there is no money being spent to check how widespread the situation is, it will be assumed that other insects are not able to do this. The big failure of positive thinking. The thing that startled the scientists was that the cockroaches could achieve the cross resistance in just one generation instead of it happening over several generations.
 

CupofJoe

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I don't think cockroaches are "developing" such an ability. They already had it. It is just now that we are seeing it in use and how useful to them. It is probably the same mechanism that has let them stay around for millions of years.
 

Dave

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That is a question of semantics rather than of science. Genetic Engineering is defined as "the direct manipulation of an organism's genes including heritable and nonheritable recombinant DNA constructs" but this here isn't a "direct manipulation." There is no gene splicing and editing in a laboratory, just the process of natural selection carrying on as usual. The same applies to a genetically modified organism (GMO) which is "any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques." However, we have been modifying and altering organisms genetically by natural selection for as long as we have been farming, and the list of altered organisms is huge, including dogs and cats, all food crops and farm animals. We don't call that GMO and people would be shocked to hear that used because the phrase has become politically charged. There is no difference between the results, only the method employed.

Natural selection doesn't need to be a slow process. It can be very quick and within several generations. The Peppered Moth is the example most often used to show this, but there are others, so the cockroaches are not unusual.


In genetic experiments, scientists use organisms with short lifespans and that reproduce quickly, such as the fruit fly, drosophila melanogaster. However, natural selection usually takes a much longer time for the genes with the advantage to work their way throughout the whole population of the organism; a much longer timescale than a human lifespan, so that is why it is said to be "developing." It is taking place all the time, just at such a slow level that we don't notice it happening. Not all the cockroaches would be resistant to begin with, but as those that were not all died, and those that were resistant reproduced, eventually all those that remain would share the same resistance genes.

Human ignorance knows no bounds
The big failure of positive thinking.
This is not difficult science to understand at all, so personally I'd just call it reckless stupidity.

I'm less concerned about resistance of cockroaches to pesticides because I think we should stop using them. We are wiping out insect numbers and we rely on insects for so much, including pollinating our food crops. No, I'm more concerned about bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Our overuse of antibiotics has allowed disease-causing bacteria to become resistant and we really don't want to return to a world before antibiotics existed. Antibiotics are a cornerstone of modern medicine and the control of infection.
 

Robert Zwilling

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The mechanism is held back as being not so useful, a waste of energy until it is needed. At first there would be few with the genes readily available but it has progressed to the point it is now only one generation back. The changing of the priority of the optional genetic code is changed by the chemicals, that seems like it could be a form of sideways genetic engineering. It seems to be changing the chemistry of it's nervous system to prevent the poison from impacting its nervous system, or it is able to turn off any receptors that would bind to the poison in the first place. If the trait is already there, the cockroach and termites are in the same order, with praying mantises a close relative. The cockroach has the second largest genome count with locust as first but I couldn't find any big lists of genome counts for insects to see who else had big genomes. The cockroach genome has a large capacity for handling proteins. A nice bag of tricks to fall back on. Cockroaches provide a route for the recycling of nitrogen for plants. Perhaps they are an integral part to the operation of the plant world in general and can't easily be destroyed on purpose. If it is the length of time they have been here that gives them the durability, there were representatives of most kinds of insects also present during prehistoric times.

The honey bees is a curious situation. There are reports that say bees are disappearing, others say they aren't, others say the honey bill isn't local to the country so what do you expect, and the beekeepers keep raising more bees. I don't see any wild honey bees on any flowers anymore but in the past they were the dominant pollinator. Yellow jackets and wasps came in second and bumble bees were not that prevalent. Today, there are no wild honeybees, the stinging wasps are not that common but every bush has bumble bees on it. One weed that was prevalent in the past but has now disappeared is white clover and always had bees on it. The dandelions are still around, another popular bee flower. Over the past few years the new weed on the block is the tiny little thing that looks like a miniature strawberry plants but are very bitter. What ever the miniature strawberry looking thing is, it likes the damp cold springs and is growing bigger each year.

I wonder how much of a connection there is to the insect "resistance" to pesticides and the bacteria resistance to drugs. Is it the same evolutionary mechanism that drives both of them? Seems like for now there is more sharing of important gene strategies in the microbe world than in the insect world.
 

Dave

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I should have read the article. I didn't read the part about gene-switching being caused by the pesticide chemicals, so I understand now why you are asking if this is genetic engineering? I still think it is a matter of semantics; that the problem is with our word definitions. The process is whatever it is. Words will need to catch up with it.

...insect "resistance" to pesticides and the bacteria resistance to drugs Is it the same evolutionary mechanism that drives both of them?
In the sense that it is all natural selection by survival of the fittest. In the natural world there is a constant flux. There is no "balance of nature"; that is a misnomer. It is a war zone, but it can reach a climax where there is a steady state, that remains in place if all the factors influencing it remain the same. When you change one of those factors then it can alter very rapidly. That is an advantage to those organisms that can close the gap and occupy the new space. Any ability to evolve quickly to new conditions will be advantageous.

This also applies to climate change. The world's climates are changing rapidly and that will lead to a loss of biodiversity, however there will be species who are winners. They are likely to be the species we generally think of as invasive or as pests, but we actually hate them precisely because they are so successful.
 

Robert Zwilling

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Jellyfish would be perfectly at home in an acidic ocean with no fish to eat them. The oceans were filled with shellless and boneless life before all that life appeared.
 

Robert Zwilling

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Words will need to catch up with it.

with it
with us
with everything

Perfect
 
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