Cohen, Z. P., K. Brevik, Y. H. Chen, D. J. Hawthorne, B. D. Weibel, and S. D. Schoville. Molecular Ecology

Contextualizing evolutionary history and identifying genomic features of an insect that might contribute to its pest status is important in developing early detection and control tactics. In order to understand the evolution of pestiferousness, which we define as the accumulation of traits that contribute to an insect population's success in an agroecosystem, we tested the importance of known genomic properties associated with rapid adaptation in the Colorado potato beetle (CPB), Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say. Within the leaf beetle genus Leptinotarsa, only CPB, and a few populations therein, has risen to pest status on cultivated nightshades, Solanum. Using whole genomes from ten closely related Leptinotarsa species native to the United States, we reconstructed a high‐quality species tree and used this phylogenetic framework to assess evolutionary patterns in four genomic features of rapid adaptation: standing genetic variation, gene family expansion and contraction, transposable element abundance and location, and positive selection at protein‐coding genes. Throughout approximately 20 million years of history, Leptinotarsa species show little evidence of gene family turnover and transposable element variation. However, there is a clear pattern of CPB experiencing higher rates of positive selection on protein‐coding genes. We determine that these rates are associated with greater standing genetic variation due to larger effective population size, which supports the theory that the demographic history contributes to rates of protein evolution. Furthermore, we identify a suite of coding genes under positive selection that are putatively associated with pestiferousness in the Colorado potato beetle lineage. They are involved in the biological processes of xenobiotic detoxification, chemosensation and hormone function.

Kadoić Balaško M, Mikac KM, Bažok R, Lemic D. 2020. Insects. 11(9):581

Colorado potato beetle, CPB (Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say), is one of the most important pests of the potato globally. Larvae and adults can cause complete defoliation of potato plant leaves and can lead to a large yield loss. The insect has been successfully suppressed by insecticides; however, over time, has developed resistance to insecticides from various chemical groups, and its once successful control has diminished. The number of available active chemical control substances is decreasing with the process of testing, and registering new products on the market are time-consuming and expensive, with the possibility of resistance ever present. All of these concerns have led to the search for new methods to control CPB and efficient tools to assist with the detection of resistant variants and monitoring of resistant populations. Current strategies that may aid in slowing resistance include gene silencing by RNA interference (RNAi). RNAi, besides providing an efficient tool for gene functional studies, represents a safe, efficient, and eco-friendly strategy for CPB control. Genetically modified (GM) crops that produce the toxins of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) have many advantages over agro-technical, mechanical, biological, and chemical measures. However, pest resistance that may occur and public acceptance of GM modified food crops are the main problems associated with Bt crops. Recent developments in the speed, cost, and accuracy of next generation sequencing are revolutionizing the discovery of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and field of population genomics. There is a need for effective resistance monitoring programs that are capable of the early detection of resistance and successful implementation of integrated resistance management (IRM). The main focus of this review is on new technologies for CPB control (RNAi) and tools (SNPs) for detection of resistant CPB populations.

Weber, D.C., Duan, J.J. & Haber, A.I. 2020 J Pest Sci

For Colorado potato beetle, an integrated approach including semiochemicals and other nonpesticidal tactics is essential to sustainable management. A volatile aggregation pheromone produced by male adult beetles is attractive to both females and males. Yet earlier research also indicates that males respond to a yet-unidentified female-produced sex pheromone. We investigated male Colorado potato beetle behavior on potato plants that had been exposed to females only, males only, mixed-sex groups, or no beetles (clean plants). During observation, these plants hosted no beetles except for the single experimental male beetle. These males (previously mated or unmated) responded very differently to female-exposed plants, spending longer time on these plants, undertaking characteristic active searching behavior, exploring more leaves per plant, and moving more rapidly between leaves, compared to male-exposed or unexposed plants. When presented with a three-way choice, males spent about five times longer on the female-exposed foliage, compared to either male-exposed or clean leaves. Searching parameters differed between mated and unmated males, but both showed similar reactions to female-exposed plants; there was little to no statistical interaction between male mated condition and plant treatment. Results strongly indicate the presence of a persistent female-produced pheromone significantly influencing male searching behavior and between-plant movement.

Hunt ER, J., Rondon SI.  Journal of Applied Remote Sensing. 2017;11(2):026013.

Colorado potato beetle (CPB) adults and larvae devour leaves of potato and other solanaceous crops and weeds, and may quickly develop resistance to pesticides. With early detection of CPB damage, more options are available for precision integrated pest management, which reduces the amount of pesticides applied in a field. Remote sensing with small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) has potential for CPB detection because low flight altitudes allow image acquisition at very high spatial resolution. A five-band multispectral sensor and up-looking incident light sensor were mounted on a six-rotor sUAS, which was flown at altitudes of 60 and 30 m in June 2014. Plants went from visibly undamaged to having some damage in just 1 day. Whole-plot normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and the number of pixels classified as damaged (0.70 ≤ NDVI ≤0.80) were not correlated with visible CPB damage ranked from least to most. Area of CPB damage estimated using object-based image analysis was highly correlated to the visual ranking of damage. Furthermore, plant height calculated using structure-from-motion point clouds was related to CPB damage, but this method required extensive operator intervention for success. Object-based image analysis has potential for early detection based on high spatial resolution sUAS remote sensing.