Wang, J., Z. Gao, M. Yang, R. Xue, H. Yan, K. Fu, Z. Zhang, W. Guo, G. W. Felton, and R. Zeng. Journal of Pest Science,

Colorado potato beetle (CPB; Leptinotarsa decemlineata) has been detected in Xinjiang, China, since 1993 and has caused serious damage to potato production during its eastward expansion to new geographic ranges. Symbiotic bacteria often play an essential role for insects to exploit novel food sources and expand into otherwise inaccessible ecological niches. An important yet unresolved question is whether herbivore populations from different geographic ranges have distinct or equal abilities to adapt to plant-induced defenses. We examined whether two geographic CPB populations collected from Urumqi and Ili varied in triggering induced defenses in potato plants, and the results demonstrated that plants damaged by Ili CPB larvae showed higher levels/activities of the defensive protein polyphenol oxidase (PPO) than those damaged by Urumqi CPB larvae. Intriguingly, application of oral secretions (OS) from Ili CPB larvae triggered higher PPO activity in potato compared with the treatments by OS collected from Urumqi larvae. Moreover, higher counts of bacterial colonies were observed in Urumqi CPB larvae by traditional culturing and quantitative PCR. Comparing the gut bacterial composition of CPB individuals by 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing also revealed higher abundance and diversity of gut-associated bacteria in the Urumqi population than that in the Ili population. These results indicate that the gut bacteria of CPB larvae were geographically shaped during the process of invasion, which played an important role in mediating plant–insect interactions and possesses a great potential to drive further invasion.

Skuhrovec, J., O. Douda, M. Zouhar, M. Maňasová, M. Božik, and P. Klouček. Journal of Economic Entomology, toz279,

The Colorado potato beetle ranks as one of the most important potato pests, mainly due to its high feeding rate during all developmental stages, particularly third and fourth larval instar, and high fecundity. The effect of essential oil (EO) from anise (Pimpinella anisum L. [Apiales: Apiaceae]) prepared as conventional and encapsulated (EN) formulations on the mortality and antifeedant responses of young larvae of Colorado potato beetles was studied to evaluate the insecticidal and antifeedant effects of five concentrations of this EO and to assess the persistence of both formulations on potato plants. The EN formulation had a significantly higher residual amount compared with that of the conventionally formulated EO. Significantly different values of LC50 and LC90 (ppm) were established for the EO (LC50 = 1,700 and LC90 = 9500) and EN (LC50 = 3,100 and LC90 = 14,300) formulations. The effects of both P. anisum formulations (EO and EN) applied topically to Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) larvae were distinctly different from those observed with the contact treatment. At the highest concentration of 20,000 ppm, the mortality of the second instars of the L. decemlineata larvae did not exceed 25%. On the other hand, both tested formulations of P. anisum were highly effective when administered orally. The encapsulated EO formulation achieved a distinctly higher biological activity. Our results confirm that the EO from P. anisum, especially the encapsulated formulation, has high insecticidal properties that may lead to the development of new organic products for the control of Colorado potato beetles.

Kryukov, V. Y., M. R. Kabilov, N. Smirnova, O. G. Tomilova, M. V. Tyurin, Y. B. Akhanaev, O. V. Polenogova, V. P. Danilov, S. K. Zhangissina, T. Alikina, O. N. Yaroslavtseva, V. V. Glupov, Fungal Biology

Strains of entomopathogenic fungi may have substantial differences in their final stages of mycosis. Insect cadavers are usually overgrown with mycelium after colonization of the insect body, but in many cases, bacterial decomposition of the colonized hosts occurs. We used two Metarhizium robertsii strains in the work: Mak-1 (cadavers become overgrown with mycelium and conidia) and P-72 (cadavers decay after fungal colonization). We conducted a comparative analysis of gut and cadaver microbiota in Colorado potato beetle larvae using 16S rRNA gene sequencing after infection with these strains. In addition, we estimated the content of different forms of nitrogen in cadavers and the influence of cadavers on the growth of Solanum lycopersicum on sand substrates under laboratory conditions. It was shown that infections did not lead to a significant shift in the midgut bacterial communities of infected insects compared to those of untreated insects. Importantly, bacterial communities were similar in both types of cadaver, with predominantly enterobacteria. Decomposing cadavers (P-72) were characterized by increased nitrate and ammonium, and they had a stronger growth-promoting effect on plants compared to cadavers overgrown with mycelium and conidia (Mak-1). We also estimated the colonization and growth of plants after treatment with conidia of both strains cultivated on artificial medium. Both cultures successfully colonized plants, but strain P-72 showed stronger growth promotion than Mak-1. We propose that the use of deviant strains that are unable to sporulate on cadavers leads to a faster (though only passive) flow of nitrogen from killed insects to plants.

Nguyen D, Poeschl Y, Lortzing T, et al. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2018;19(12):3845.

In nature, plants are frequently subjected to multiple biotic and abiotic stresses, resulting in a convergence of adaptive responses. We hypothesised that hormonal signalling regulating defences to different herbivores may interact with drought responses, causing distinct resistance phenotypes. To test this, we studied the hormonal and transcriptomic responses of Solanum dulcamara subjected to drought and herbivory by the generalist Spodoptera exigua (beet armyworm; BAW) or the specialist Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Colorado potato beetle; CPB). Bioassays showed that the performance of BAW, but not CPB, decreased on plants under drought compared to controls. While drought did not alter BAW-induced hormonal responses, it enhanced the CPB-induced accumulation of jasmonic acid and salicylic acid (SA), and suppressed ethylene (ET) emission. Microarray analyses showed that under drought, BAW herbivory enhanced several herbivore-induced responses, including cell-wall remodelling and the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and secondary metabolites. In contrast, CPB herbivory enhanced several photosynthesis-related and pathogen responses in drought-stressed plants. This may divert resources away from defence production and increase leaf nutritive value. In conclusion, while BAW suffers from the drought-enhanced defences, CPB may benefit from the effects of enhanced SA and reduced ET signalling. This suggests that the fine-tuned interaction between the plant and its specialist herbivore is sustained under drought.

Crossley MS, Schoville SD, Haagenson DM, Jansky SH. J Econ Entomol. 2018;111(4):1875-1884. doi: 10.1093/jee/toy120.

Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), is a serious global pest of potato, Solanum tuberosum L. Management of L. decemlineata has relied heavily on insecticides, but repeated evolution of insecticide resistance has motivated the exploration and development of alternative strategies, such as plant resistance. The recent development of two diploid potato families derived from crosses between cultivated and wild potato species (S. chacoense and S. berthaultii) has provided a unique opportunity to reexamine plant traits for resistance breeding. In this 2-yr study, we surveyed select F2 clones for the induction of L. decemlineata mortality and a reduction in defoliation in no-choice feeding assays when challenged with adults and larvae from three sites in Wisconsin. We tested for an association with glandular trichome density and foliar levels of the glycoalkaloids chaconine and solanine. Several potato clones demonstrated resistance in specific feeding assays, but none excelled consistently across experiments. Mortality and defoliation generally differed significantly among L. decemlineata populations, which could be indicative of heritable variation in beetle responses to plant defenses or variation in the physiological status of the beetle populations tested. Contrary to expectations, higher trichome density increased mortality or decreased defoliation in only a few cases, and levels of mortality and defoliation were unrelated to foliar glycoalkaloid content, warranting further investigation of the defense mechanisms of resistant clones. In addition to identifying several potential L. decemlineata resistance sources, this study underscores the need to include multiple insect populations in surveys of plant resistance to this diverse pest.

Cingel A, Savić J, Lazarević J, et al. Insect Science. 2017;24(5):768-780. doi: 10.1111/1744-7917.12364.

Colorado potato beetle (CPB; Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say, Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) has shown a remarkable adaptability to a variety of control measures. Although oryzacystatin I and II (OCI and OCII) have potential in controlling pests that use cysteine proteinases for food digestion, expression of a single OC gene in potato exhibited a minimal or no effect on CPB fitness traits. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of coexpressed OCI and OCII in potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) cultivars Desiree, Dragačevka and Jelica on CPB larvae. Growth parameters, consumption rates and food utilization, as well as activity of proteases of CPB larvae were assayed. Second and third instar larvae fed on transformed leaves molted earlier and had higher relative growth and consumption rates than larvae fed on nontransformed leaves, while efficiency of food utilization was unaffected. In contrast, fourth instar maximum weight gain and amount of leaves consumed were about 20% lower for the larvae fed on transgenic potato. Analysis of total protease activity of third instar larvae revealed reduction in overall proteolytic activity measured by azocasein hydrolysis, accompanied with inhibition of cysteine proteinase activity 24 h after ingestion of potato leaves expressing OCI and OCII. However, after long-term feeding on transformed leaves proteolytic activities of larvae became similar to the controls. Although feeding on OCI/OCII leaves did not affect larval survival, coexpression of OC genes reduced the development time and thus significantly decreased plant damage caused by CPB larvae.

Guo, W., et al. 2018 J Agric Food Chem. 66(45):11990-11999. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.8b03914.

RNA interference (RNAi) has been developed for plant pest control. In this study, hairpin-type double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) targeting the juvenile hormone (JH) acid methyltransferase (JHAMT) gene (dsJHAMT) was introduced in potato plants via Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. The results indicated that the transcriptional RNA of dsJHAMT accumulated in the transgenic plants. The transcripts and proteins of the L. decemlineata JHAMT gene were significantly reduced in larvae feeding on dsJHAMT transgenic foliage. The dsJHAMT had a significant negative effect on the growth and development of L. decemlineata, especially resulting in less oviposition. Importantly, in the field trials, transgenic plants are high-efficiently protected from insect damage mainly because surviving insects laid fewer or no eggs. Even full protection from beetle damage can be acquired by continuously lowering insect population size at large scale in the field over the years. Therefore, the transgenic plants expressing dsJHAMT successfully provided an additional option for plant pest control.

Wetzel WC, Aflitto NC, Thaler JS. 2018. Ecology. 99(10):2338-2347. doi: 10.1002/ecy.2472.

A growing number of studies have manipulated intraspecific plant diversity and found dramatic changes in the densities of associated insect herbivores and their predators. While these studies have been essential for quantifying the net ecological consequences of intraspecific plant diversity, they have been less effective at uncovering the ways in which plant diversity alters trophic interactions within arthropod communities. We manipulated intraspecific plant diversity and predation risk in the field in a factorial design to reveal how a mixture of plant genotypes changes the response of an herbivorous beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) to a common stink bug predator (Podisus maculiventris). We repeated the manipulations twice across the ontogeny of the beetle to examine how the effects of diversity on the predator-prey interaction differ between larval and adult stages. We found that intraspecific plant diversity, mixtures of susceptible and resistant varieties of potato (Solanum tuberosum), reduced larval survival by 20% and adult oviposition by 34%, which surprisingly put survival and oviposition lower in the mixed-genotype plots than in the resistant monocultures. Moreover, we found that predation risk reduced larval survival 25% and 11% in resistant and susceptible monocultures, respectively, but had no effect in the mixture. This result indicated that our genotypic mixing treatment interacted nonadditively with predation risk such that plant diversity altered the predator-prey interaction by changing the responses of the beetles to their stink bug predators. In addition, even though predation risk reduced larval survival, it increased adult overwintering survival by 9%, independently of plant treatment, suggesting that these interactions change through ontogeny. A key implication of our study is that plant diversity influences arthropod communities not only by changing resource quality, as past studies have suggested, but also by changing interactions between species within the arthropod community.

Gabaston J, El-Khawand T, Waffo-Teguo P, et al. Journal of Pest Science. 2018;91(2):897-906. doi: 10.1007/s10340-018-0956-2.

Stilbenes are phenolic compounds which are produced in large amounts in vine and are involved in plant defence as phytoalexins. Oligomeric forms have recently proven to be the most active compounds against a wide range of parasites such as fungi, bacteria or algae. The aim of this study was to investigate the activity of a grapevine root extract which is a stilbene oligomer pool against Leptinotarsa decemlineata, a major pest of Solanaceae crops. Analysis by UHPLC-DAD-MS of the stilbene-enriched extract obtained from grapevine root (Riparia Gloire de Montpellier rootstock) highlighted twelve stilbenes at 25% (w/w). The major stilbenes found in root extract were isolated such as the tetramers vitisin B, vitisin A and hopeaphenol; the dimers ampelopsin A and E-ε-viniferin and the monomer E-resveratrol. The insecticidal effects of this extract as well as the main compounds were investigated against L. decemlineata larvae. The extract caused chronic toxicity, inhibited larval development and, to a lesser extent, inhibited food intake. The high concentrations of vitisin A and vitisin B in grapevine root contributed to this effect as they are the most toxic compounds. Outdoor pot experiments revealed the efficacy of stilbene-enriched extract with high mortality of L. decemlineata and protection of potato plants. The extract also revealed an absence of toxicity against non-targeted organisms such as earthworms (Eisenia fetida). Thus, these results strongly suggest that grapevine roots are a promising source of bioactive stilbenes for the development of natural insecticides.

Ahmed HAA, Onarıcı S, Bakhsh A, et al. Plant Biotechnology Reports. 2017;11(5):315-329. doi: 10.1007/s11816-017-0453-8.

The expression of insecticidal genes must be induced at appropriate time and in sufficient amount to confer protection against targeted pests. However, the increased scientific reports of resistance development in insect pest against insecticidal delta-endotoxins, produced by Bacillus thuringiensis, provide impetus for the development of alternative insect management strategies. The present study was conducted to investigate the importance of targeted expression of a hybrid insecticidal gene (SN19) in potatoes. For this purpose, two plant expression vectors were constructed by cloning hybrid SN19 gene (cry1Ba-domain I-III and cry1Ia-domain II) under the control of a wound-inducible promoter isolated from Asparagus officinalis (AoPR1) and CaMV 35S promoter, and were transferred to Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain EHA 105. Four potato genotypes (Marabel, Innovator, Tokat 10/1 and Tokat 6/24) were transformed with EHA 105 strain harboring pTF101.1 35S-SN19 and pTF101.1 AoPR1-SN19 constructs. Phosphinothricin (PPT) was used at concentration of 1 mg/l for selection of primary transformants. PCR results showed the presence of both introduced SN19 and bar genes in 43 plants out of total 154 putative transgenics. Expression of SN19 protein in primary transformants was confirmed by Western blot assays. The mechanical wounding of transgenic plants exhibited more accumulated levels of SN19 proteins during post wounding period. Leaf biotoxicity assays with Colorado potato beetle (Coleoptera) and tomato leafminer (Lepidoptera) exhibited 100% mortality of the pests in primary transformants. Based on our mortality results with both constructs, we concluded that the potato transgenic lines exhibited targeted expression of insecticidal gene under the control of AoPR1 promoter upon insect wounding with eliminated toxicity of Cry protein and hence can be further used effectively in potato breeding programme.