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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #341685

Research Project: Managing Insects in the Corn Agro-Ecosystem

Location: Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research

Title: Differentiation of European corn borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) and American lotus borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), Ostrinia penitalis, from North American field collections

item Coates, Brad
item Abel, Craig

Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/13/2019
Publication Date: 4/11/2019
Citation: Coates, B.S., Abel, C.A. 2019. Differentiation of European corn borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) and American lotus borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), Ostrinia penitalis, from North American field collections. Journal of Economic Entomology. 112(4):2007-2011.

Interpretive Summary: Changes in producer practices have resulted in corresponding changes in pest insect population densities within the Midwest United States. This is exemplified in the case of widespread farmer adoption of transgenic corn hybrids that express Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins that has resulted in reduced size of European corn borer (ECB) populations. Annual monitoring of ECB populations for Bt resistance involves the collection of ECB from the field. In this study two ARS researchers demonstrate that in the current era of reduced ECB population sizes, a closely related non-corn pest species, the American lotus borer (ALB), can be prevalent within field collections and mistakenly identified as ECB. Furthermore, this ARS research team developed a genetic marker that differentiates ECB and ALB with 100% accuracy. This research will be of interest to any university, industry or government scientist involved in field monitoring of ECB, as well as those interested in the impact of Bt corn on the agroecosystem.

Technical Abstract: The European corn borer (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis, is a perennial insect pest of cultivated maize that was inadvertently introduced into North America in the early 1900s, but population densities have decreased since the widespread adoption of transgenic hybrids that express Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins. The native American lotus borer (ALB), Ostrinia penitalis, is among the most ancestral species described in the genus Ostrinia, and has a geographic range that coincides with that of ECB across major maize growing regions of North America. Due to the recent decrease in ECB populations, ALB has become more pronounced in light trap samples intended to monitor ECB. A molecular tool based on variation in restriction endonuclease digestion pattern of a PCR amplified fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (coxI) gene were developed and validated to differentiate these two species. This method was applied to light trap samples over a two-year period and achieved accurate quantification of species, and shows that ALB can be prevalent in ECB first flight sampling. These methods are useful for contemporary ECB field research in North America.