|HAMONS, KRISTEN - Texas A&M University|
|SWORD, GREGORY - Texas A&M University|
Submitted to: Insects
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/11/2022
Publication Date: 1/5/2023
Citation: Perkin, L.C., Hamons, K.L., Suh, C.P., Sword, G.A. 2023. Amplicon sequencing of plant material links cotton fleahopper to host plants. Insects. 27(1):1-9. https://doi.org/10.56454/WBSD2203.
Interpretive Summary: Although the cotton fleahopper is a major pest of cotton in Texas and Oklahoma, it is generally recognized that this insect feeds and reproduces on a number of wild host plants before infesting cotton fields. However, there is considerable debate regarding which plants are used by the cotton fleahopper prior to cotton. We analyzed the plant DNA found in the guts of cotton fleahopper nymphs fed known host plants as well as from nymphs collected from a field containing a mixture of host plants. Our results demonstrate that analysis of plant DNA in the cotton fleahopper gut is a reliable approach for identifying plants consumed by this pest. Knowledge of seasonal host utilization by the cotton fleahopper will provide critical insight on the ecology of this pest and ultimately lead to new or improved management strategies for the cotton fleahopper.
Technical Abstract: The cotton fleahopper (CFH), Pseudatomoscelis seriatus (Reuter), is an early season cotton pest that feeds on cotton terminals resulting in flower abortion, irregular plant growth, and delayed plant maturity. The CFH has been documented on over 160 host plants across 35 families. Identification of host plants was accomplished through observed presence on a plant in the field and/or con-trolled feeding studies under lab conditions. Because the CFH is a generalist, these results may not accurately represent the plants used by the CFH under natural conditions. We used amplicon sequencing to identify plant material within the guts of CFH nymphs. Control samples consisted of CFHs fed in the laboratory on horsemint, Monarda spp., and sweep samples collected from fields of horsemint and croton, Croton spp. Nymphs were also collected from a field with mixed plant composition. We detected the correct plant family in all control samples. BLAST results from the mixed composition field categorized hits into seven different plant families, one of which may be a new host plant for the CFH. Based on these findings, amplicon sequencing of gut contents may be useful to further understand the complex ecology of the CFH, which may ultimately improve management strategies for CFH.