Special Issue "Insect-Plant Interactions"

A special issue of Insects (ISSN 2075-4450).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Paul A. Weston

School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences and Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2678, Australia
Website | E-Mail
Interests: insect-plant interactions; insect behaviour and ecology; plant secondary chemistry; metabolomic profiling of plants; orientation mechanisms; modelling insect movement; biological control; phenological modelling; climate change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Understanding the interactions of insects with their plant hosts is fundamental to basic ecological studies as well as more practical endeavours aimed at lessening the impact of insect pests on crop production. The diversity of plant characteristics that mediate these interactions and the often intricate behavioural mechanisms used by insects to assess the suitability of plants as food for themselves or their offspring have led to great complexity, which is slowly being unraveled by scientists with a diversity of research specialisations. Recent advances in analytical chemistry instrumentation has enabled deeper insights into these complex relationships, and a better understanding of chemical signalling occurring in plants in response to attack by insects has facilitated research into ways to increase plant resistance to insect attack. The potential for climate change to disturb the balance of biochemical and ecological processes underlying these relationships is leading to innovative studies examining the impact of extreme environmental conditions on the interactions between insects and plants. For this special issue, we invite the submission of high quality original research papers and mini-reviews covering all aspects of insect-plant interactions.

Dr. Paul A. Weston
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle Local Insect Damage Reduces Fluctuating Asymmetry in Next-year’s Leaves of Downy Birch
Received: 5 February 2018 / Revised: 8 May 2018 / Accepted: 8 May 2018 / Published: 11 May 2018
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Abstract
Insect herbivory imposes stress on host plants. This stress may cause an increase in leaf fluctuating asymmetry (FA), which is defined as the magnitude of the random deviations from a symmetrical leaf shape. We tested the hypothesis that differences in leaf FA among
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Insect herbivory imposes stress on host plants. This stress may cause an increase in leaf fluctuating asymmetry (FA), which is defined as the magnitude of the random deviations from a symmetrical leaf shape. We tested the hypothesis that differences in leaf FA among individual shoots of downy birch, Betula pubescens, are at least partly explained by local damage caused by insects in the previous year. Unexpectedly, we found that in the year following the damage imposed by miners, leafrollers and defoliators, damaged birch shoots produced leaves with lower FAs compared to shoots from the same tree that had not been damaged by insects. This effect was consistent among the different groups of insects investigated, but intra-species comparisons showed that statistical significance was reached only in shoots that had been damaged by the birch leaf roller, Deporaus betulae. The detected decrease in leaf FA in the year following the damage agrees with the increases in shoot performance and in antiherbivore defence. The present results indicate that within-plant variation in leaf FA may have its origin in previous-year damage by insects, and that FA may influence the current-year’s distribution of herbivory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect-Plant Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle Do Aphids Alter Leaf Surface Temperature Patterns During Early Infestation?
Received: 30 January 2018 / Revised: 12 March 2018 / Accepted: 13 March 2018 / Published: 14 March 2018
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Abstract
Arthropods at the surface of plants live in particular microclimatic conditions that can differ from atmospheric conditions. The temperature of plant leaves can deviate from air temperature, and leaf temperature influences the eco-physiology of small insects. The activity of insects feeding on leaf
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Arthropods at the surface of plants live in particular microclimatic conditions that can differ from atmospheric conditions. The temperature of plant leaves can deviate from air temperature, and leaf temperature influences the eco-physiology of small insects. The activity of insects feeding on leaf tissues, may, however, induce changes in leaf surface temperatures, but this effect was only rarely demonstrated. Using thermography analysis of leaf surfaces under controlled environmental conditions, we quantified the impact of presence of apple green aphids on the temperature distribution of apple leaves during early infestation. Aphids induced a slight change in leaf surface temperature patterns after only three days of infestation, mostly due to the effect of aphids on the maximal temperature that can be found at the leaf surface. Aphids may induce stomatal closure, leading to a lower transpiration rate. This effect was local since aphids modified the configuration of the temperature distribution over leaf surfaces. Aphids were positioned at temperatures near the maximal leaf surface temperatures, thus potentially experiencing the thermal changes. The feedback effect of feeding activity by insects on their host plant can be important and should be quantified to better predict the response of phytophagous insects to environmental changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect-Plant Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle Development of Sparganothis sulfureana (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) on Cranberry Cultivars
Received: 22 November 2017 / Revised: 15 December 2017 / Accepted: 21 December 2017 / Published: 2 January 2018
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Abstract
Sparganothis fruitworm (Sparganothis sulfureana Clemens) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) is a serious pest of cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton), a native North American fruit cultivated in northern regions of the United States and southeastern Canada. This study assessed antibiosis in several cranberry cultivars commonly
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Sparganothis fruitworm (Sparganothis sulfureana Clemens) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) is a serious pest of cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton), a native North American fruit cultivated in northern regions of the United States and southeastern Canada. This study assessed antibiosis in several cranberry cultivars commonly grown in Wisconsin. Five cultivars previously shown to host different levels of populations of S. sulfureana in commercial cranberry were assessed in this study to evaluate the performance of S. sulfureana amongst these cultivars. We measured growth and time to developmental stages of newly emerged larvae to adulthood on selected cranberry cultivars in the laboratory. There was no difference in the rates of survival to pupation and to adult emergence among any of the cultivars tested. Mid-instar larvae that fed on the cultivar ‘Ben Lear’ were heavier than those feeding on ‘GH-1’, ‘Stevens’, or ‘HyRed’, and larvae that fed on ‘Mullica Queen’ were heavier than those feeding on ‘HyRed’. However, there were no significant differences in pupal weights or in the number of days from neonate to adult emergence among varieties. Therefore, this study did not provide evidence of antibiosis among the cultivars tested, and found that larval weight was not correlated with other measurements of performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect-Plant Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle β-Cyanoalanine Synthases and Their Possible Role in Pierid Host Plant Adaptation
Received: 2 May 2017 / Revised: 5 June 2017 / Accepted: 14 June 2017 / Published: 18 June 2017
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Abstract
Cyanide is generated in larvae of the glucosinolate-specialist Pieris rapae (Lepidoptera:Pieridae) upon ingestion of plant material containing phenylalanine-derived glucosinolates as chemical defenses. As these glucosinolates were widespread within ancient Brassicales, the ability to detoxify cyanide may therefore have been essential for the host
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Cyanide is generated in larvae of the glucosinolate-specialist Pieris rapae (Lepidoptera:Pieridae) upon ingestion of plant material containing phenylalanine-derived glucosinolates as chemical defenses. As these glucosinolates were widespread within ancient Brassicales, the ability to detoxify cyanide may therefore have been essential for the host plant shift of Pierid species from Fabales to Brassicales species giving rise to the Pierinae subfamily. Previous research identified β-cyanoalanine and thiocyanate as products of cyanide detoxification in P. rapae larvae as well as three cDNAs encoding the β-cyanoalanine synthases PrBSAS1-PrBSAS3. Here, we analyzed a total of eight species of four lepidopteran families to test if their cyanide detoxification capacity correlates with their feeding specialization. We detected β-cyanoalanine synthase activity in gut protein extracts of all six species tested, which included Pierid species with glucosinolate-containing host plants, Pierids with other hosts, and other Lepidoptera with varying food specialization. Rhodanese activity was only scarcely detectable with the highest levels appearing in the two glucosinolate-feeding Pierids. We then amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) 14 cDNAs encoding β-cyanoalanine synthases from seven species. Enzyme characterization and phylogenetic analysis indicated that lepidopterans are generally equipped with one PrBSAS2 homolog with high affinity for cyanide. A second β-cyanoalanine synthase which grouped with PrBSAS3 was restricted to Pierid species, while a third variant (i.e., homologs of PrBSAS1), was only present in members of the Pierinae subfamily. These results are in agreement with the hypothesis that the host shift to Brassicales was associated with the requirement for a specialized cyanide detoxification machinery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect-Plant Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle Control of Cowpea Weevil, Callosobruchus Maculatus (F.) (Coleoptera: Bruchidae), Using Natural Plant Products
Insects 2015, 6(1), 77-84; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects6010077
Received: 16 June 2014 / Accepted: 11 November 2014 / Published: 31 December 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (69 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A laboratory study was conducted to investigate the effects of natural products on the reproduction and damage of Callosobruchus maculatus, the cowpea weevil, on cowpea seeds at Botswana College of Agriculture in Gaborone, Botswana. The cowpea variety Blackeye was used in the study.
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A laboratory study was conducted to investigate the effects of natural products on the reproduction and damage of Callosobruchus maculatus, the cowpea weevil, on cowpea seeds at Botswana College of Agriculture in Gaborone, Botswana. The cowpea variety Blackeye was used in the study. Fifty grams of each plant product (garlic, peppermint and chilies) was added to 500 g of the cowpea seeds. Findings of this experiment revealed that chilies and garlic had negative effects on cowpea weevils for all parameters measured. Peppermint also showed significant reduction in the F1 progeny of the cowpea weevils but with less effect on weevils than garlic and chilies. The results indicate that these plant products have the potential to protect cowpea seeds from cowpea weevils’ damage compared to when the seeds are left or stored unprotected. They should, therefore, be included in pest management strategies for cowpea weevil in grains stored on-farm in rural tropical and subtropical regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect-Plant Interactions)
Open AccessArticle Innate and Conditioned Responses to Chemosensory and Visual Cues in Asian Citrus Psyllid, Diaphorina citri (Hemiptera: Liviidae), Vector of Huanglongbing Pathogens
Insects 2014, 5(4), 921-941; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects5040921
Received: 8 August 2014 / Revised: 6 November 2014 / Accepted: 7 November 2014 / Published: 19 November 2014
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (992 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) transmits Huanglongbing, a devastating disease that threatens citrus trees worldwide. A better understanding of the psyllid’s host-plant selection process may lead to the development of more efficient means of monitoring it and predicting its movements. Since
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Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) transmits Huanglongbing, a devastating disease that threatens citrus trees worldwide. A better understanding of the psyllid’s host-plant selection process may lead to the development of more efficient means of monitoring it and predicting its movements. Since behavioral adaptations, such as associative learning, may facilitate recognition of suitable host-plants, we examined whether adult D. citri could be conditioned to visual and chemosensory stimuli from host and non-host-plant sources. Response was measured as the frequency of salivary sheaths, the residue of psyllid probing activity, in a line of emulsified wax on the surface of a test arena. The psyllids displayed both appetitive and aversive conditioning to two different chemosensory stimuli. They could also be conditioned to recognize a blue-colored probing substrate and their response to neutral visual cues was enhanced by chemosensory stimuli. Conditioned psyllids were sensitive to the proportion of chemosensory components present in binary mixtures. Naïve psyllids displayed strong to moderate innate biases to several of the test compounds. While innate responses are probably the psyllid’s primary behavioral mechanism for selecting host-plants, conditioning may enhance its ability to select host-plants during seasonal transitions and dispersal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect-Plant Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle Switched after Birth: Performance of the Viburnum Leaf Beetle [Pyrrhalta viburni (Paykull)] after Transfer to a Suboptimal Host Plant
Insects 2014, 5(4), 805-817; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects5040805
Received: 17 June 2014 / Revised: 26 August 2014 / Accepted: 29 August 2014 / Published: 27 October 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (947 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Host plant switching is common among phytophagous insects. Once optimal food sources have been depleted, immature insects may resort to use of suboptimal hosts in order to complete their development. Such host switching may have dramatic consequences for insect fitness. Here we investigate
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Host plant switching is common among phytophagous insects. Once optimal food sources have been depleted, immature insects may resort to use of suboptimal hosts in order to complete their development. Such host switching may have dramatic consequences for insect fitness. Here we investigate the effects of host switching in larvae of the viburnum leaf beetle, Pyrrhalta viburni, an invasive landscape pest in North America. Specifically, we examine how transfer of 3rd instar larvae from the optimal host Viburnum dentatum to three suboptimal hosts (V. lentago, V. carlesii, and V sieboldii) affects larval development and survivorship to the adult stage. Larval survivorship, pupal weight, and adult weight were overall lower for P. viburni larvae that switched hosts, independently of the suboptimal host tested. This decrease in performance corresponds to a decreased feeding rate on suboptimal hosts. Subsequent choice tests showed that 3rd instar larvae become less choosy as they approach pupation, and discriminate less between optimal and suboptimal hosts past a certain weight threshold. In conclusion, P. viburni larvae are able to complete their development on suboptimal hosts, but host switching negatively impacts several fitness correlates. Mixed ornamental gardens containing both optimal and suboptimal Viburnum species may provide to outbreaking P. viburni populations opportunities to survive the depletion of their preferred food sources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect-Plant Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle Preference of Diamondback Moth Larvae for Novel and Original Host Plant after Host Range Expansion
Insects 2014, 5(4), 793-804; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects5040793
Received: 29 April 2014 / Revised: 9 September 2014 / Accepted: 17 October 2014 / Published: 27 October 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (410 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Utilization of a novel plant host by herbivorous insects requires coordination of numerous physiological and behavioral adaptations in both larvae and adults. The recent host range expansion of the crucifer-specialist diamondback moth (DBM), Plutella xylostella L. (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae), to the sugar pea crop
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Utilization of a novel plant host by herbivorous insects requires coordination of numerous physiological and behavioral adaptations in both larvae and adults. The recent host range expansion of the crucifer-specialist diamondback moth (DBM), Plutella xylostella L. (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae), to the sugar pea crop in Kenya provides an opportunity to study this process in action. Previous studies have shown that larval ability to grow and complete development on sugar pea is genetically based, but that females of the pea-adapted strain do not prefer to oviposit on pea. Here we examine larval preference for the novel host plant. Larvae of the newly evolved pea-adapted host strain were offered the choice of the novel host plant sugar pea and the original host cabbage. These larvae significantly preferred pea, while in contrast, all larvae of a cabbage-adapted DBM strain preferred cabbage. However, pea-adapted larvae, which were reared on cabbage, also preferred cabbage. Thus both genetic differences and previous exposure affect larval host choice, while adult choice for the novel host has not yet evolved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect-Plant Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle Larval Helicoverpa zea Transcriptional, Growth and Behavioral Responses to Nicotine and Nicotiana tabacum
Insects 2014, 5(3), 668-688; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects5030668
Received: 31 March 2014 / Revised: 18 July 2014 / Accepted: 1 September 2014 / Published: 12 September 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (548 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The polyphagous feeding habits of the corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), underscore its status as a major agricultural pest with a wide geographic distribution and host plant repertoire. To study the transcriptomic response to toxins in diet, we conducted a microarray analysis of
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The polyphagous feeding habits of the corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), underscore its status as a major agricultural pest with a wide geographic distribution and host plant repertoire. To study the transcriptomic response to toxins in diet, we conducted a microarray analysis of H. zea caterpillars feeding on artificial diet, diet laced with nicotine and Nicotiana tabacum (L.) plants. We supplemented our analysis with growth and aversion bioassays. The transcriptome reflects an abundant expression of proteases, chitin, cytochrome P450 and immune-related genes, many of which are shared between the two experimental treatments. However, the tobacco treatment tended to elicit stronger transcriptional responses than nicotine-laced diet. The salivary factor glucose oxidase, known to suppress nicotine induction in the plant, was upregulated by H. zea in response to tobacco but not to nicotine-laced diet. Reduced caterpillar growth rates accompanied the broad regulation of genes associated with growth, such as juvenile hormone epoxide hydrolase. The differential expression of chemosensory proteins, such as odorant binding-protein-2 precursor, as well as the neurotransmitter nicotinic-acetylcholine-receptor subunit 9, highlights candidate genes regulating aversive behavior towards nicotine. We suggest that an observed coincidental rise in cannibalistic behavior and regulation of proteases and protease inhibitors in H. zea larvae signify a compensatory response to induced plant defenses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect-Plant Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle Genetic Variation of the Host Plant Species Matters for Interactions with Above- and Belowground Herbivores
Insects 2014, 5(3), 651-667; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects5030651
Received: 15 May 2014 / Revised: 22 July 2014 / Accepted: 8 August 2014 / Published: 29 August 2014
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Abstract
Plants are challenged by both above- and belowground herbivores which may indirectly interact with each other via herbivore-induced changes in plant traits; however, little is known about how genetic variation of the host plant shapes such interactions. We used two genotypes (M4 and
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Plants are challenged by both above- and belowground herbivores which may indirectly interact with each other via herbivore-induced changes in plant traits; however, little is known about how genetic variation of the host plant shapes such interactions. We used two genotypes (M4 and E9) of Solanum dulcamara (Solanaceae) with or without previous experience of aboveground herbivory by Spodoptera exigua (Noctuidae) to quantify its effects on subsequent root herbivory by Agriotes spp. (Elateridae). In the genotype M4, due to the aboveground herbivory, shoot and root biomass was significantly decreased, roots had a lower C/N ratio and contained significantly higher levels of proteins, while the genotype E9 was not affected. However, aboveground herbivory had no effects on weight gain or mortality of the belowground herbivores. Root herbivory by Agriotes increased the nitrogen concentration in the roots of M4 plants leading to a higher weight gain of conspecific larvae. Also, in feeding bioassays, Agriotes larvae tended to prefer roots of M4 over E9, irrespective of the aboveground herbivore treatment. Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) documented differences in metabolic profiles of the two plant genotypes and of the roots of M4 plants after aboveground herbivory. Together, these results demonstrate that previous aboveground herbivory can have genotype-specific effects on quantitative and qualitative root traits. This may have consequences for belowground interactions, although generalist root herbivores might not be affected when the root biomass offered is still sufficient for growth and survival. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect-Plant Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle Biomechanical Properties of Hemlocks: A Novel Approach to Evaluating Physical Barriers of the Plant–Insect Interface and Resistance to a Phloem-Feeding Herbivore
Insects 2014, 5(2), 364-376; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects5020364
Received: 19 March 2014 / Revised: 6 May 2014 / Accepted: 20 May 2014 / Published: 3 June 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (274 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Micromechanical properties that help mediate herbivore access may be particularly important when considering herbivorous insects that feed with piercing-sucking stylets. We used microindentation to quantify the micromechanical properties of hemlock, Tsuga spp., to quantify the hardness of the feeding site of the invasive
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Micromechanical properties that help mediate herbivore access may be particularly important when considering herbivorous insects that feed with piercing-sucking stylets. We used microindentation to quantify the micromechanical properties of hemlock, Tsuga spp., to quantify the hardness of the feeding site of the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae. We measured hardness of the hemlock leaf cushion, the stylet insertion point of the adelgid, across four seasons in a 1 y period for four hemlock species growing in a common garden, including eastern, western, mountain, and northern Japanese hemlocks. Leaf cushion hardness was highest in the fall and winter and lowest in summer for all species. Northern Japanese hemlock had relatively greater hardness than the remaining species. Our data contributes an additional perspective to the existing framework within which greater susceptibility and subsequent mortality of eastern hemlocks is observed. The potential application of microindentation to understanding the nature and relevance of plant mechanical defenses in plant–herbivore interactions is also demonstrated and highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect-Plant Interactions)
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Ecology of the African Maize Stalk Borer, Busseola fusca (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) with Special Reference to Insect-Plant Interactions
Insects 2014, 5(3), 539-563; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects5030539
Received: 13 May 2014 / Revised: 5 June 2014 / Accepted: 20 June 2014 / Published: 8 July 2014
Cited by 19 | PDF Full-text (759 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Busseola fusca (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) is an important pest of maize and sorghum in sub-Saharan Africa. One century after its first description by Fuller in 1901, inaccurate information based on earlier reports are still propagated on its distribution (e.g., absent from the lower altitudes
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Busseola fusca (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) is an important pest of maize and sorghum in sub-Saharan Africa. One century after its first description by Fuller in 1901, inaccurate information based on earlier reports are still propagated on its distribution (e.g., absent from the lower altitudes in East Africa) and host plant range (e.g., feeding on a large range of wild grass species). This review provides updated information on the biology, distribution and genetics of B. fusca with emphasis on insect-plant interactions. Related to this, new avenues of stem borer management are proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect-Plant Interactions)
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