University of Hertfordshire

The global status of insect resistance to neonicotinoid insecticides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Chris Bass
  • Ian Denholm
  • MS Williamson
  • Ralf Nauen
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-87
Number of pages10
JournalPesticide Biochemistry and Physiology
Early online date28 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2015


The first neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, was launched in 1991. Today this class of insecticides comprises at least seven major compounds with a market share of more than 25% of total global insecticide sales. Neonicotinoid insecticides are highly selective agonists of insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and provide farmers with invaluable, highly effective tools against some of the world's most destructive crop pests. These include sucking pests such as aphids, whiteflies, and planthoppers, and also some coleopteran, dipteran and lepidopteran species. Although many insect species are still successfully controlled by neonicotinoids, their popularity has imposed a mounting selection pressure for resistance, and in several species resistance has now reached levels that compromise the efficacy of these insecticides. Research to understand the molecular basis of neonicotinoid resistance has revealed both target-site and metabolic mechanisms conferring resistance. For target-site resistance, field-evolved mutations have only been characterized in two aphid species. Metabolic resistance appears much more common, with the enhanced expression of one or more cytochrome P450s frequently reported in resistant strains. Despite the current scale of resistance, neonicotinoids remain a major component of many pest control programmes, and resistance management strategies, based on mode of action rotation, are of crucial importance in preventing resistance becoming more widespread. In this review we summarize the current status of neonicotinoid resistance, the biochemical and molecular mechanisms involved, and the implications for resistance management.


This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of the following article: Chris Bass, Ian Denholm, Martin S. Williamson, and Ralf Nauen, ‘The global status of insect resistance to neonicotinoid insecticides’, Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology, Vol. 121, pp. 78-87, June 2015. The Version of Record is available online at doi: Published by Elsevier Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc.

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