Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Miscanthus, a biofuels crop, can host western corn rootworm

Date:
January 7, 2010
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
The western corn rootworm beetle, a pest that feasts on corn roots and corn silk and costs growers more than $1 billion annually in the US, also can survive on the perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus, a potential biofuels crop that would likely be grown alongside corn, researchers report.

After mating, the females begin feeding on corn pollen, silks and other corn tissue to obtain nutrients to provision their eggs. By late summer, a well-fed female will have deposited hundreds of eggs.
Credit: Photo by Joseph Spencer, INHS

The western corn rootworm beetle, a pest that feasts on corn roots and corn silk and costs growers more than $1 billion annually in the U.S., also can survive on the perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus, a potential biofuels crop that would likely be grown alongside corn, researchers report.

Rootworm beetle larvae can survive to adulthood on Miscanthus rhizomes, and adult beetles will lay their eggs at the base of Miscanthus plants grown near cornfields, the researchers found. Their study, in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, is the first to identify Miscanthus as a host of the corn rootworm.

The research team, from the University of Illinois Natural History Survey, tested several rootworm beetle populations on Miscanthus, adding rootworm eggs to potted Miscanthus and corn plants in a greenhouse setting. Rootworms from all populations survived to adulthood on the Miscanthus plants, including a strain that is behaviorally resistant to crop rotation. (Rather than remaining true to cornfields, rotation-resistant rootworms also will lay their eggs in soybean fields and other rotated crops, allowing the larvae to feed on corn planted in those fields the following spring.)

"The rotation-resistant rootworm is the population that is most familiar and troublesome to farmers in Illinois," said Joseph Spencer, an insect behaviorist at the State Natural History Survey and co-author on the study with former Survey scientist Sathyamurthy Raghu.

"This form is spreading across the Corn Belt, putting a greater area of U.S. corn production at risk each year. The worst rootworm was happy on Miscanthus," Spencer said.

Although the researchers found about 70 percent fewer adult rootworm beetles on the Miscanthus plants than on the corn plants grown in the greenhouse, the fact that rootworms could survive at all on this perennial grass was a revelation, Spencer said.

"That we can get as many insects as we were getting tells us that this plant is not a bad host for these insects," he said.

Some adults emerged from the Miscanthus slightly earlier than they appeared on corn. More emerged slightly later than those on corn, Spencer said, but the timing of their emergence was close enough that "there's the possibility that adults coming off these two crops could interact."

This interaction could be good or bad for corn growers, Spencer said. If the rootworms that grow up on Miscanthus carry genes that make them susceptible to transgenic corn or to insecticides used on corn and they mate with rootworm beetles in a cornfield, it could help slow development of resistance to insecticides or transgenic corn among their offspring. On the other hand, the acres devoted to Miscanthus could function as a vast, perennial reservoir of rootworm beetles -- with devastating consequences for corn growers.

To determine if the western corn rootworm would lay its eggs in a Miscanthus field, the researchers placed potted Miscanthus plants in rows next to a cornfield during the egg-laying period. Late in the season, before the corn was harvested but after the rootworm adults were all dead, the researchers counted rootworm eggs in the soil around the corn and Miscanthus plants, and in the space between the rows of plants.

"There was no difference in the mean number of western corn rootworm eggs laid at the base of Miscanthus and maize in the field," the authors wrote.

The implications for corn growers are not yet known, "but these findings brought it home to us that much more study is needed," Spencer said. "Before we put something out in the environment that could result in pest problems increasing on corn, we need to more fully appreciate the ecology and potential interactions in the environment."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Spencer et al. Refuge or Reservoir? The Potential Impacts of the Biofuel Crop Miscanthus x giganteus on a Major Pest of Maize. PLoS ONE, 2009; 4 (12): e8336 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008336

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Miscanthus, a biofuels crop, can host western corn rootworm." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100105125844.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2010, January 7). Miscanthus, a biofuels crop, can host western corn rootworm. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100105125844.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Miscanthus, a biofuels crop, can host western corn rootworm." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100105125844.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) — Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins