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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #306917

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

Location: Sugarcane Research

Title: Geographic population structure of the sugarcane borer, Diatraea saccharalis (F.)(Lepidoptera: Crambidae), in the southern United States

Author
item Joyce, Andrea
item White, William
item Nuessly, Gregg
item Solis, M
item Scheffer, Sonja
item Lewis, Matthew
item Medina, Raul

Submitted to: PLoS One
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/28/2014
Publication Date: 10/22/2014
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/63030
Citation: Joyce, A.L., White, W.H., Nuessly, G.S., Solis, M.A., Scheffer, S.J., Lewis, M.L., Medina, R.F. 2014. Geographic population structure of the sugarcane borer, Diatraea saccharalis (F.)(Lepidoptera: Crambidae), in the southern United States . PLoS One. 9(10): e11036. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0110036.

Interpretive Summary: Larvae of the sugarcane borer moth tunnel into the stalks of sugarcane causing extensive damage to the sugarcane plant. This insect is present in all of the sugarcane producing areas of the continental United States (e.g. Florida, Louisiana, and Texas) and is considered the most important insect pest of sugarcane in these areas. Sugarcane borer is also an important pest of corn, rice, and sorghum being grown in proximity to sugarcane and throughout the entire gulf coastal region. Although considered the same species, antidotal evidence suggests the existence of more than one species of sugarcane borer. Examples of such evidence are variable response of moths to different host plants and variation in moth attractiveness to different formulations pheromone trap lures. Advances in molecular techniques provide the means and therefore the opportunity to determine if there is sufficient genetic variation to verify the existence of more than one species of sugarcane borer. We found a geographic population structure in the southern United States which suggests two introductions and the presence of a previously unknown cryptic species. Determining the existence of multiple sugarcane borer species can have a profound influence on developing more efficient management techniques for controlling damaging infestations of this insect. For example, multiple chemical formulations of pheromone lures and new varieties of crops that are resistant to the predominate species of borer found in a specific area. Such advances will result in less insecticide usage thereby improving farmer profit margins and reducing environmental pollution.

Technical Abstract: The sugarcane borer moth, Diatraea saccharalis, is widespread throughout the Western Hemisphere, and is considered an introduced species in the southern United States. Although this moth has a wide distribution and is a pest of many crop plants including sugarcane, corn, sorghum and rice, it is considered one species. The objective was to investigate whether more than one introduction of D. saccharalis had occurred in the southern US and whether any cryptic species were present. We field collected D. saccharalis in Texas, Louisiana and Florida in the southern United States. Two molecular markers, AFLPs and mitochondrial COI, were used to examine genetic variation among these regional populations and to compare the sequences with those available in GenBank and BOLD. We found geographic population structure in the southern United States which suggests two introductions and the presence of a previously unknown cryptic species. Management of D. saccharalis would likely benefit from further investigation of population genetics throughout the range of this species.