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8 September 2021 Soybean Foliage Consumption Reduces Adult Western Corn Rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera)(Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) Survival and Stimulates Flight
Joseph L. Spencer, Timothy R. Mabry, Eli Levine, Scott A. Isard
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Western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, biology is tied to the continuous availability of its host (corn, Zea mays L.). Annual rotation of corn with a nonhost, like soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merrill) was a reliable tactic to manage western corn rootworm. Behavioral resistance to annual crop rotation (rotation resistance) allowed some eastern U.S. Corn Belt populations to circumvent rotation by laying eggs in soybean and in cornfields. When active in soybean, rotation-resistant adults commonly consume foliage, in spite of detrimental effects on beetle survival. Rotation-resistant beetle activity in soybean is enabled by the expression of certain proteinases and an adapted gut microbiota that provide limited protection from soybean antiherbivore defenses. We investigated the effects of corn and soybean herbivory on rotation-resistant female survival and initiation of flight using mortality assays and wind tunnel flight tests. Among field-collected females tested with mortality assays, beetles from collection sites in a cornfield survived longer than those from collection sites in a soybean field. However, reduced survival due to soybean herbivory could be restored by consuming corn tissues. Field-collected beetles that fed on a soybean tissue laboratory diet or only water were more likely to fly in a wind tunnel than corn-feeding beetles. Regardless of collection site and laboratory diet, 90.5% of beetles that flew oriented their flights upwind. Diet-related changes in the probability of flight provide a proximate mechanism for interfield movement that facilitates restorative feeding and the survival of females previously engaged in soybean herbivory.

Graphical Abstract


Rotation-resistant western corn rootworm females feeding on soybean tissues experience reduced survival in mortality assays and display increased flight probability (which may facilitate flight back to a cornfield where consumption of host tissues improves survival potential and facilitates maturation of eggs). The consequences of soybean herbivory provide a proximal mechanism for behavioral resistance to crop rotation. Increased egg-laying probability while feeding on soybean tissues, facilitation of egg maturation while feeding on corn tissues, and interfield movement are previously documented consequences.

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
Joseph L. Spencer, Timothy R. Mabry, Eli Levine, and Scott A. Isard "Soybean Foliage Consumption Reduces Adult Western Corn Rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera)(Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) Survival and Stimulates Flight," Journal of Economic Entomology 114(6), 2390-2399, (8 September 2021).
Received: 5 March 2021; Accepted: 19 August 2021; Published: 8 September 2021

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behavioral resistance
crop rotation
Glycine max
wind tunnel
Zea mays
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