A study was undertaken to elucidate the impact of an undescribed Nosema sp. on the southwestern corn borer (SWCB; Diatraea grandiosella Dyar). The Nosema sp. (isolate 506) included in the study was isolated from an overwintering SWCB larva in Mississippi. It was highly infectious per os, with a median infective dose of 2.0 × 103 spores per larva. Even at the highest dosage tested (107 spores per larva), minimal mortality (≤3%) was observed in infected larvae, pupae, and adults reared in the laboratory on an artificial diet. However, infected pupae (0- and 7-d-old) were smaller, and the time to adult eclosion from pupation was slightly increased. Furthermore, the number of eggs produced by infected SWCB female moths substantially decreased (32%), and this effect was most pronounced on day 2, when the greatest number of eggs were oviposited by infected and noninfected moths. For eggs produced by infected females mated with infected males, hatch was slightly decreased by 16 and 15% for eggs laid on days 2 and 3, respectively. In addition, egg hatch was reduced in eggs oviposited by noninfected females mated with infected males on day 3. A low prevalence of infection (<6%) was observed in the F1 generation originating from infected females mating with noninfected males, from noninfected females mating with infected males, and from infected females mating with infected males. Nosema 506 spores were observed in the proximity of reproductive tissues of infected female and male moths. Spores also were detected on the chorion surface and within eggs laid by infected females. Furthermore, 1–11% of larvae hatching from surface-sterilized eggs were infected by Nosema 506 indicating a transovarial mechanism of transmission.
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Vol. 96 • No. 1