The boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis grandis Boheman (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), is a major pest of commercial cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) in the southern United States and throughout Central and South America. Efforts are underway to develop a PCR-based diagnostic tool that can be used to rapidly and accurately differentiate boll weevils from other weevil species that are commonly captured in pheromone traps. However, the quantity and integrity of weevil DNA must be sufficient for a successful PCR assay. Currently, active eradication programs service traps weekly, but post-eradication programs service traps at 2- or 3-wk intervals. Consequently, captured weevils may be dead, dismembered, and exposed to environmental conditions for prolonged periods which may adversely affect the quantity and quality of weevil DNA. We documented DNA quantity and integrity in boll weevils and weevil body parts aged in traps over a 3-wk period under field conditions. The quantity of DNA extracted from whole weevils, heads, abdomens, and legs generally remained sufficient (> 1 ng/µl) for successful PCR amplification throughout the 21-d period. The integrity (fragment length) of extracted DNA declined over time but generally was sufficient (> 700 bp) for successful amplification. PCR amplification of three marker genes validated that the quality and integrity of DNA extracted from dead weevils and individual weevil body parts aged in traps up to 21 d remained at sufficient levels for the PCR-based assay. However, our data also suggested that rain events may accelerate degradation of weevil DNA.
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Vol. 114 • No. 3