Emergence delay and female-skewed sex ratios among adults of Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) from Bt corn have been reported in field studies. The authors used a simulation model to study the effect of a maturation delay and a female-skewed sex ratio for D. v. virgifera emerging from Bt corn on the evolution of Bt resistance.
Combining herbicide-resistant and Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) traits in corn (Zea mays L.) hybrids may affect insect resistance management owing to volunteer corn. Some Bt toxins may be expressed at lower levels by nitrogen-deficient corn roots. Corn plants with sublethal levels of Bt expression could accelerate the evolution of Bt resistance in target insects. The present objective was to quantify the concentration of Bt (Cry3Bb1) in corn root tissue with varying tissue nitrogen concentrations.
Western corn rootworm (WCR), Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), is the most destructive insect pest of corn (Zea mays L.) in the United States. The adult WCR beetles derive their nourishment from multiple sources including corn pollen and silks as well as the pollen of alternate hosts. Conversely, the corn foliage is largely neglected as a food source by WCR beetles, leading to a perception of a passive interaction between the two. We report here a novel recessive mutation of corn that was identified and named after its foliar susceptibility to corn rootworm beetles (crw1). The crw1 mutant under field conditions was exceptionally susceptible to foliar damage by WCR beetles in an age-specific manner. It exhibits pleiotropic defects on cell wall biochemistry, morphology of leaf epidermal cells and lower structural integrity via differential accumulation of cell wall bound phenolic acids. These findings indicate that crw1 is perturbed in a pathway that was not previously ascribed to WCR susceptibility, as well as implying the presence of an active mechanism(s) deterring WCR beetles from devouring corn foliage. The discovery and characterization of this mutant provides a unique opportunity for genetic analysis of interactions between maize and adult WCR beetles and identify new strategies to control the spread and invasion of this destructive pest.
Western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte) resistance management for transgenic (or Bt) corn hinges on understanding the mating behavior and biology of this adaptable insect pest. During mating, the male transfers sperm and additional, previously uncharacterized material, to the female in the form of a spermatophore. We investigated the composition of rootworm spermatophores. Proteins were found to be a major component, and the stable isotope (15)N was used to assess the fate of spermatophore nitrogen in mated female beetles and their eggs. We also performed longevity studies on mated and virgin females under three different diet treatments and investigated the relationships between morphometric characteristics and spermatophore volume of mating pairs of beetles. The stable isotope analysis determined that nitrogen provided to the female in the spermatophore was incorporated into the eggs. We found that virgin female beetles on a corn diet lived significantly longer than mated female beetles on the same diet. There were significant positive relationships between male size parameters (head capsule width, pronotum width, and elytral length) and spermatophore volume, and ampulla and spermatophylax volume.
The aggregation and mating behavior of the stink bug, Euschistus conspersus Uhler (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) was investigated in a series of field and laboratory experiments. Marking of E. conspersus mating in aggregations in the field demonstrated that both sexes mate multiple times within aggregations on successive nights and with different partners, although ? 20% of the individuals of both sexes returned to aggregations but did not mate. Further analysis of mating patterns in caged aggregations revealed that heavy males and light females mated more frequently than their respective counterparts. Data are interpreted in terms of elucidating the function of benefits of multiple mating within aggregations for males and females.
The use of mixtures of transgenic insecticidal seed and nontransgenic seed to provide an in-field refuge for susceptible insects in insect-resistance-management (IRM) plans has been considered for at least two decades. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has only recently authorized the practice. This commentary explores issues that regulators, industry, and other stakeholders should consider as the use of biotechnology increases and seed mixtures are implemented as a major tactic for IRM. We discuss how block refuges and seed mixtures in transgenic insecticidal corn, Zea mays L., production will influence integrated pest management (IPM) and the evolution of pest resistance. We conclude that seed mixtures will make pest monitoring more difficult and that seed mixtures may make IRM riskier because of larval behavior and greater adoption of insecticidal corn. Conversely, block refuges present a different suite of risks because of adult pest behavior and the lower compliance with IRM rules expected from farmers. It is likely that secondary pests not targeted by the insecticidal corn as well as natural enemies will respond differently to block refuges and seed mixtures.
The western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), is the key pest of corn, Zea mays L., in North America. The western corn rootworm variant is a strain found in some parts of the United States that oviposits in soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr., thereby circumventing crop rotation. Soybean herbivory is closely associated with oviposition; therefore, evidence of herbivory could serve as a proxy for rotation resistance. A digital image analysis method based on the characteristic green abdominal coloration of rootworm adults with soybean foliage in their guts was developed to estimate soybean herbivory rates of adult females. Image analysis software was used to develop and apply threshold limits that allowed only colors within the range that is characteristic of soybean herbivory to be displayed. When this method was applied to adult females swept from soybean fields in an area with high levels of rotation resistance, 54.3 +/- 2.1% were estimated to have fed on soybean. This is similar to a previously reported estimate of 54.8%. Results when laboratory-generated negative controls were analyzed showed an acceptably low frequency of false positives. This method could be developed into a management tool if user-friendly software were developed for its implementation. In addition, researchers may find the method useful as a rapid, standardized screen for measuring frequencies of soybean herbivory.
Public-sector scientists have a mandate to independently evaluate agricultural products available to American farmers on the open market, whereas the companies that sell the products must protect their intellectual property. However, as a consequence of the latter concern, public scientists currently are prohibited by industry-imposed restrictions from conducting research on commercialized transgenic seed without permission of the company. Industry acknowledged the seriousness of the problem after public warnings by a large group of entomologists to EPA and scientific advisory panels that the assumption of independence of public-sector studies on these products is no longer valid under current restrictions. Both industry and public scientists are working to find an amicable, mutually-acceptable solution. Recently, the American Seed Trade Association brokered a draft set of principles designed to protect the legitimate property rights of companies while allowing public scientists independence to conduct most types of research on their commercialized products without the need for case-by-case agreements. While there are a number of potential pitfalls in implementation of the principles across companies, this effort represents a major step forward, and there is reason for optimism that this approach can be made to work to the benefit of industry, public scientists, and the American public.
We evaluated the mating ability of male western corn rootworms, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera Leconte (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), for 20 d after initial mating, using a series of laboratory experiments. Males mated an average of 2.24 times within 10 d after their first mating and averaged 0.15 matings between days 11 and 20 after their first mating. Because estimating the mating frequency in Bt/refuge cornfields is critical to developing robust and reliable models predicting Bt resistance development in this pest, we discuss how these laboratory findings may influence development and evaluation of current and future insect resistance management plans.
Understanding of the mating and dispersal behavior of the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera (LeConte), is essential to predicting potential resistance to Bt corn technologies recently deployed to combat this pest. To quantify movement of male beetles, field studies were conducted during 2006 and 2007 in commercial Bt cornfields that included the Environmental Protection Agency-mandated 20% refuge acreage. Wing traps containing a single virgin female beetle were placed along transects throughout these fields. Male beetles were collected from the sticky bottoms of traps to compare the mean number of beetles captured at the different transect distances. Gut contents of each captured male were assayed with protein test strips to determine if the Bt protein (Cry3Bb1) was present. This provided an estimate of the distances traveled by males to reach virgin females. These data indicated that the mean number of males captured approximately 200 m from refuge corn was not significantly different than the mean number of males captured close to the refuge (< 22 m). Complementary field observations were conducted to determine how far newly emerged female beetles moved before mating and the time of day mating occurs. Results indicated that females do not move far from the site of emergence before mating and do not mate within the first 4 h of adult life. The implications of these data for movement and mating patterns of adult rootworms in Bt/refuge environments are discussed.
The soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura (Hemiptera: Aphididae), is an economically important pest of soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merrill, in the United States. Phenological information of A. glycines is limited; specifically, little is known about factors guiding migrating aphids and potential impacts of long distance flights on local population dynamics. Increasing our understanding of A. glycines population dynamics may improve predictions of A. glycines outbreaks and improve management efforts. In 2005 a suction trap network was established in seven Midwest states to monitor the occurrence of alates. By 2006, this network expanded to 10 states and consisted of 42 traps. The goal of the STN was to monitor movement of A. glycines from their overwintering host Rhamnus spp. to soybean in spring, movement among soybean fields during summer, and emigration from soybean to Rhamnus in fall. The objective of this study was to infer movement patterns of A. glycines on a regional scale based on trap captures, and determine the suitability of certain statistical methods for future analyses. Overall, alates were not commonly collected in suction traps until June. The most alates were collected during a 3-wk period in the summer (late July to mid-August), followed by the fall, with a peak capture period during the last 2 wk of September. Alate captures were positively correlated with latitude, a pattern consistent with the distribution of Rhamnus in the United States, suggesting that more southern regions are infested by immigrants from the north.
Populations of honey bees and other pollinators have declined worldwide in recent years. A variety of stressors have been implicated as potential causes, including agricultural pesticides. Neonicotinoid insecticides, which are widely used and highly toxic to honey bees, have been found in previous analyses of honey bee pollen and comb material. However, the routes of exposure have remained largely undefined. We used LC/MS-MS to analyze samples of honey bees, pollen stored in the hive and several potential exposure routes associated with plantings of neonicotinoid treated maize. Our results demonstrate that bees are exposed to these compounds and several other agricultural pesticides in several ways throughout the foraging period. During spring, extremely high levels of clothianidin and thiamethoxam were found in planter exhaust material produced during the planting of treated maize seed. We also found neonicotinoids in the soil of each field we sampled, including unplanted fields. Plants visited by foraging bees (dandelions) growing near these fields were found to contain neonicotinoids as well. This indicates deposition of neonicotinoids on the flowers, uptake by the root system, or both. Dead bees collected near hive entrances during the spring sampling period were found to contain clothianidin as well, although whether exposure was oral (consuming pollen) or by contact (soil/planter dust) is unclear. We also detected the insecticide clothianidin in pollen collected by bees and stored in the hive. When maize plants in our field reached anthesis, maize pollen from treated seed was found to contain clothianidin and other pesticides; and honey bees in our study readily collected maize pollen. These findings clarify some of the mechanisms by which honey bees may be exposed to agricultural pesticides throughout the growing season. These results have implications for a wide range of large-scale annual cropping systems that utilize neonicotinoid seed treatments.
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