Objective 1: Identify and describe the functional genomics for physiological systems important to pest management (e.g., the digestive and sensory systems), for key stored product insects (e.g., lesser grain borer, red flour beetle). Sub-Objective 1.A. Sequence the genome of some key stored product pests. Sub-Objective 1.B. Conduct functional genomic studies of stored product pests to identify target genes for bio-rational controls. Sub-Objective 1.C. Evaluation of insect responses to insecticides and mechanisms of recovery and resistance. Objective 2: Develop and improve monitoring technologies, control tactics, and integrated pest management systems for stored product insects (e.g., cigarette beetle, lesser grain borer, red flour beetle, and warehouse beetle). Sub-Objective 2.A. Improve the management of outside sources of stored product insect infestation. Sub-Objective 2.B. Improve protection of bulk stored grain from damage by stored product insects through reduced risk approaches. Sub-Objective 2.C. Improve the effectiveness of reduced risk aerosol insecticides. Sub-Objective 2.D. Improve use of pheromones in integrated pest management programs.
Our research focus is the management of key pests of stored raw grains and processed grain products. Insect pests cause significant economic loss through direct feeding damage and product contamination throughout food distribution channels. Integrated pest management (IPM) approaches employing a combination of strategies are needed to protect domestic and international food supplies. Our research objectives target important data gaps in IPM programs, with an emphasis on reduced risk products and sustainable strategies that can be integrated to reduce pest infestation issues. We will conduct genome sequencing for several important stored product insect species and use functional genomics to identify targets for new biologically-based insecticides and evaluate insect response to insecticides. We will improve the management of outside sources of insect infestation through an evaluation of population structure and how insects exploit outside food accumulations. For bulk grain protection, we will focus on reduced risk insecticides and aeration to reduce the need to fumigate commodity. Aerosol insecticide usage inside structures is increasing as a structural fumigation alternative, so our research will focus on how applications can be improved. Finally, we will evaluate how pheromone use in monitoring and mating disruption can be improved through a better understanding of insect behavior. Successful completion of this work will result in new methodologies that will improve the quality of stored products, reduce economic loss, and contribute to the improved security of our food supply.
This report documents progress for Project 3020-43000-033-00D Sustainable Management Strategies for Stored-Product Insects which started June / July 2016 (Old Project: 3020-43000-032-00D; Accession No.: 0421404; Title: Ecology, Genomics, and Management of Stored Product Insects). Under Objective 1, “Identify and describe the functional genomics for physiological systems important to pest management”, we used both short and long read sequence data to fully assemble a draft genome for the lesser grain borer and to annotate predicted genes. This has allowed us to identify genes that are specific to the biology of the grain borer, and working with collaborators, are identifying genes specific to insecticide resistance and new targets for control agents. We obtained short read data for male and female yellow mealworm genome sequences, providing inputs to improve the draft assembly and to make predictions of structures used in genetic sequencing. The gut, head, and carcass of lesser grain borer larvae was sequenced as planned, and we defined stage- and tissue-specific transcripts through differential gene expression analysis. New procedures were designed for bacterial expression systems to reduce expression of targeted genes, and these procedures continue to be researched and modified. We identified optimal protein: carbohydrate dietary ratios for growth of red flour beetles, which were needed to evaluate the response of beetles to toxins and inhibitors. The transcriptome of phosphine-resistant and –susceptible lesser grain borer adults was obtained to compare differential gene expression in resistant insects. Under Objective 2, “Develop and improve monitoring technologies, control tactics, and integrated pest management systems for stored product insects,” tests were initiated to develop testing methodologies and evaluate the performance of pythroid insecticides used as residual surface treatments. A two-year study is being completed. Plans were made for obtaining wheat from the summer 2017 harvest to initiate a new aeration study in grain bins that are on-site at our Center. Laboratory and field trials have been conducted to calibrate and test equipment that will determine particle size and concentration of aerosols used to control insect pests in flour mills. Tests were conducted in two different field sites to evaluate aerosol dispersal patterns and resulting effects on insects exposed to those aerosols. Laboratory tests were also conducted to obtain more precise assessments of aerosol particle size on different insect life stages. To improve the effectiveness of pheromone trapping programs, laboratory studies were conducted to evaluate response of warehouse beetle and cigarette beetle to pheromone traps under different light conditions and studies were initiated to evaluate the impact of temperature on insect response to traps. Also conducted trials to determine the effectiveness of new traps and attractants in capturing warehouse beetle. These attractants may also be useful for monitoring the Khapra beetle, which is a quarantine pest. Tests were initiated to evaluate different pheromone release rates for mating disruption of the warehouse beetle and Indianmeal moth. We collected and performed genotyping by sequencing (GBS) analysis on lesser grain borer collected from different geographic locations within the USA to determine population structure and movement patterns.
1. Freezing can be used to control Psocids in stored products. Psocids are insects that contaminate raw grains and stored food products and are an increasing problem in the United States. They are more difficult to control with insecticides compared to other stored product pests. ARS scientists in Manhattan, Kansas, evaluated whether cold temperature could be used as a disinfestation strategy for psocids. By conducting studies in which different life stages of four major pest psocid species were exposed to 0°F we showed eggs of three of the four psocid species we tested were much harder to kill compared to nymphs and adults. Exposure to 0°F for 1 to 2 hours killed all nymphs and adults, while eggs of one species survived up to 128 hours of exposure. Cold temperatures can be incorporated into management programs to protect stored products from psocids, but given the tolerance of eggs, longer exposure times may be needed compared to other stored product insects.
2. Draft genome sequence obtained for the lesser grain borer. The immature stages of grain borers feed on the internal part of the kernel and thus reduce the quality of grain. The lesser grain borer is a major pest of stored grains worldwide, and populations have become resistant to phosphine the most commonly used control method. ARS scientists in Manhattan, Kansas, and Clay Center, Nebraska, have sequenced the genome of the lesser grain borer, and have annotated genes in the genome for downstream studies. The draft genome contains 479,149,650 bases, broken into 336 segments that quality metrics indicate is 99% complete, with approximately 23,000 genes predicted. Working with collaborators, genes are being connected to biology, providing information on the genetic changes in insects that are resistant to insecticides, as well as identifying potential targets for new control products. The genome contains about 40% repetitive sequences, and these repeats are scattered throughout the genome and are found interspersed around coding sequences, similar to other beetles that have been studied.
3. Prior captures of stored product beetles in traps can influence response of other beetles. Traps that capture walking insects are widely used to monitor the activity of stored product beetle pests, but the probability of capture in a trap can be impacted by a range of biological, environmental and physical factors. Prior capture of individuals of the same or different species may change the volatile cues produced by a trap and influence subsequent attractiveness of the trap, but this factor has received relatively little attention. ARS scientists in Manhattan, Kansas, conducted studies by placing live or dead stored product insects inside traps, and determining if the presence of those insects affected trap catch. Overall, dead adults in a trap had the strongest positive influence on trap capture, but effects varied with species. When beetles were given a choice between traps with individuals of the same species versus individuals of its closely related species, preference varied with species and whether adults added to trap were alive or dead. Our results suggest that previous captures of beetles within traps can influence response to traps and that this response depends on the species previously captures and whether they are alive or dead.
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