Environmental Entomology (2014) 43, 840-848

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Ivan Hiltpold, John J. Adamczyk Jr., Matthew L. Higdon, Thomas L. Clark, Mark R. Ellersieck and Bruce E. Hibbard (2014)
Carbon isotope ratios document that the elytra of western corn rootworm (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) reflects adult versus larval feeding and later instar larvae prefer Bt corn to alternate hosts
Environmental Entomology 43 (3), 840-848
Abstract: In much of the Corn Belt and parts of Europe, the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, is the most important insect pest of maize. The need for additional basic knowledge of this pest has been highlighted while developing resistance management plans for insecticidal genetically modified crops. This study evaluated the possibility of tracking feeding habits of western corn rootworm larvae using stable carbon isotope signatures. Plants accumulate different ratios of 13C:12C isotopes, usually expressed as δ13C, according to whether they use the C3 or C4 photosynthetic pathway. Herbivore biomass is expected to reflect the δ13C of the food they eat. For the current experiment, western corn rootworm larvae were grown on different species of plants exhibiting different δ13C values. The δ13C values were then measured in elytra of emerged beetles. When beetles were unfed, biomass reflected larval feeding. When beetles were fed for 31 d postemergence, δ13C values of elytra almost exclusively reflected adult feeding. These results suggest the use of caution in the interpretation of δ13C data aiming to document larval diet history when adult feeding history is unknown. The technique was also used to evaluate western corn rootworm larval choice between alternate hosts and maize with and without genetically modified (Bt) traits aimed at their control. Propensity for feeding on alternate hosts versus maize was biased toward feeding on maize regardless whether the maize had Bt or not, suggesting western corn rootworm larvae were not repelled by Bt. These data will be helpful for regulators in interpreting western corn rootworm feeding data on Bt maize.
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Database assignments for author(s): Bruce E. Hibbard, Ivan Hiltpold, Thomas L. Clark

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
general biology - morphology - evolution
biocontrol - natural enemies
Research topic(s) for beneficials or antagonists:
resistance/tolerance/defence of host

Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.

Diabrotica virgifera Maize/corn (Zea mays)
Bacillus thuringiensis genes in crops (entomopathogen) Diabrotica virgifera Maize/corn (Zea mays)