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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Developing Integrated Weed and Insect Management Systems for Efficient and Sustainable Sugarcane Production

Location: Sugarcane Research Unit

Title: Sugarcane borer resistance in sugarcane as affected by silicon applications in potting medium

Authors
item White, William
item White, Paul

Submitted to: American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 23, 2013
Publication Date: January 6, 2014
Citation: White, W.H., White Jr., P.M. 2014. Sugarcane borer resistance in sugarcane as affected by silicon applications in potting medium [online journal]. Journal of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists. 33:38-54.

Interpretive Summary: The sugarcane borer is an important insect pest of sugarcane in Louisiana. The primary means of controlling the borer in Louisiana is the timely application of insecticides. Although the classes of insecticides recommended for control have a minimal environmental impact, the cost of making these applications represents a significant financial input by farmers. Growing borer resistant varieties can reduce the number of insecticide applications by 25%. Unfortunately, the release of borer resistant varieties is sporadic. One means to increase borer resistance in susceptible varieties is to increase the level of silica in the plant. Silica is the second most abundant element found in the earth’s crust. It has been shown to aid plants in coping with a range of abiotic and biotic stresses. Insects are an important class of biotic stress. We conducted a greenhouse experiment to determine the response of sugarcane to silica amendment using the sugarcane borer susceptible variety HoCP 96-540 and the borer resistant variety L 99-226. Four levels of silica were evaluated: 0, 1, 2, and 4 Mg Si ha-1.

Technical Abstract: The sugarcane borer, Diatraea saccharalis (F.)(Lepidoptera: Crambidae) is the most important insect pest of sugarcane (interspecific hybrids of Saccharum) in the Americas, and the key insect pest of sugarcane in Louisiana. Although the release of borer resistant varieties is sporadic in Louisiana, planting them, when available, is an important tactic in the season-long control of this pest. One approach to ameliorate yield losses associated with planting susceptible sugarcane varieties would be to increase silicon (Si) content in the sugarcane plant. Increasing the level of Si in the host plant has been shown to increase resistance to several species of stem borers. We conducted a greenhouse experiment to determine the response of sugarcane to calcium silicate amendment using the sugarcane borer susceptible variety HoCP 96-540 and the borer resistant variety L 99-226. Four levels of Si were evaluated at equivalent rates of 0, 1, 2, and 4 Mg Si ha-1. Resistance was measured by counting the number of internodes bored by sugarcane borer larvae, the cumulative length of borer tunneling, the number of inoculations required to establish a larva, and the weight of individual larva recovered. All measurements were taken after 14 days of feeding. We did not detect any significant differences in plant Si content among the different amendment levels. However, we did see a significant difference among the main effects of variety and silicate for number of internodes bored, and for the main effect of silicate for the number of inoculations required to establish a larva. Silicon reduced bored internodes in the susceptible variety HoCP 540 by 45%, and 40% in the resistant variety L 99-226. Also, after supplementing with Si, an additional inoculation was required to establish larvae, e.g. from 2 to 3 inoculations. No significant differences were detected for the other response variables measured; however, there were consistent trends in these data. In general, larvae recovered after 14 days of feeding on the plants supplemented with Si weighed 130% less than those feeding on plants not supplemented with Si. The addition of Si reduced tunneling within the stalk by approximately 25%. This study indicates that supplementing sugarcane fields with Si will increase resistance to the sugarcane borer and that further field studies are warranted.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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