Submitted to: American Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/4/2006
Publication Date: 6/30/2006
Citation: Sappington, T.W., Siegfried, B.D., Guillemaud, T. 2006. Coordinated Diabrotica genetics research: accelerating progress on an urgent insect pest problem. American Entomologist. 52:90-97. Interpretive Summary: The problems posed to corn producers by rootworms in the genus Diabrotica are mounting, and are associated at a fundamental level with the genetics of this important pest complex. The Diabrotica Genetics Consortium is a large international group of scientists dedicated to communicating our research objectives and findings, sharing our expertise and genetic resources, and coordinating our activities in order to accelerate progress toward a common goal. Thus we are exceptionally motivated and uniquely positioned to address the large, complex questions of rootworm genetics that so urgently need resolution. The Consortium is in a unique position to significantly accelerate progress in critical areas of Diabrotica genetics through efficient large-scale cooperative research. Because of the large and diverse group focusing on this insect, such cooperation will elevate Diabrotica to the status of a model organism in a very short time with far-reaching benefits to those working on other insect pest species in various fields of genetics.
Technical Abstract: Corn rootworms, Diabrotica spp., represent the most destructive pest complex of continuous corn (Zea mays) in North America, and the western corn rootworm (D. virgifera virgifera) (WCR) is now posing a major and spreading risk to corn in Europe since it was first detected in the early 1990s. Corn rootworms are a very difficult pest to manage because they have developed resistance to both chemical insecticides and cultural management systems, such as crop rotation. The recent deployment of transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn in the U.S. for controlling Diabrotica pests has raised concerns that rootworms will develop resistance to this technology as well unless appropriate insect resistance management strategies are employed. The evolution and spread of insecticide and behavioral resistance to crop rotation, the introduction and spread of the western corn rootworm in Europe, and the recent large-scale commercial deployment of rootworm-active Bt corn in North America have converged to generate a sense of urgency among scientists involved in rootworm research. Of particular importance to all these issues is an increased understanding of rootworm genetics. Over the last two years, a group of more than 35 scientists from 21 different institutions in North America and Europe have organized to form the Diabrotica Genetics Consortium. The main role of the Consortium is to facilitate communication among those working on genetics-related problems, both to coordinate efforts and to reveal opportunities for synergism through cooperation/collaboration. Members of the Consortium organized and convened the first International Conference on Diabrotica Genetics Research in December 2004 to exchange information on ongoing research, to explore potential collaborations, and to discuss areas of needed research. This is a highly energized group of scientists with a broad range of expertise, uniquely motivated to cooperate on large issues of rootworm genetics. This Consortium is in a unique position to significantly accelerate progress in critical areas of Diabrotica genetics through efficient large-scale cooperative research.