Increasing adoption of transgenic crops expressing cry toxin genes from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt crops) represents an augmented risk for development of insect resistance. While fitness costs can greatly influence the rate of resistance evolution, most available data related to Bt resistance have been obtained from laboratory-selected insect strains. In this article, we test the existence of fitness costs associated with high levels of field-evolved resistance to Bt maize event TC1507 in a strain of Spodoptera frugiperda (JE Smith) originated from maize fields in Puerto Rico. Fitness costs in resistant S. frugiperda were evaluated by comparing biological performance to susceptible insects when reared on meridic diet, maize or soybean leaf tissue, or cotton reproductive tissues. Parameters monitored included larval survival, larval and pupal weights, developmental time (larval and pupal), adult longevity, reproductive traits (fecundity and fertility), and sex ratio. We found that all monitored parameters were influenced to a similar extent by the host, independently of susceptibility to Bt maize. The only parameter that significantly differed between strains for all hosts was a longer larval developmental period in resistant S. frugiperda, which resulted in emergence asynchrony between susceptible and resistant adults. To test the relevance of fitness costs in resistant S. frugiperda, we performed a selection experiment to monitor the stability of resistance in a heterogeneous strain through 12 generations of rearing on meridic diet. Our data demonstrate lack of fitness costs relevant to stability of field-evolved resistance to Bt maize and help explain reported stability of field-evolved resistance in Puerto Rican populations of S. frugiperda.
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