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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Mutations of acetylcholinesterase which confer insecticide resistance in Drosophila melanogaster populations

Philippe Menozzi1, Ming An Shi12, Andrée Lougarre1, Zhen Hua Tang2 and Didier Fournier1*

  • * Corresponding author: Didier Fournier

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Groupe de Biotechnologie des Protéines, IPBS-UMR 5089, F-31077 Toulouse, France

2 Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 200025 Shanghai, P.R. China

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2004, 4:4  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-4-4

Published: 5 February 2004



Organophosphate and carbamate insecticides irreversibly inhibit acetylcholinesterase causing death of insects. Resistance-modified acetylcholinesterases(AChEs) have been described in many insect species and sequencing of their genes allowed several point mutations to be described. However, their relative frequency and their cartography had not yet been addressed.


To analyze the most frequent mutations providing insecticide resistance in Drosophila melanogaster acetylcholinesterase, the Ace gene was cloned and sequenced in several strains harvested from different parts of the world. Sequence comparison revealed four widespread mutations, I161V, G265A, F330Y and G368A. We confirm here that mutations are found either isolated or in combination in the same protein and we show that most natural populations are heterogeneous, composed of a mixture of different alleles. In vitro expression of mutated proteins showed that combining mutations in the same protein has two consequences: it increases resistance level and provides a wide spectrum of resistance.


The presence of several alleles in natural populations, offering various resistance to carbamate and organophosphate compounds will complicate the establishment of resistance management programs.

acetylcholinesterase; resistance; insecticide; mutation; population structure