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Understanding predator–prey interactions is essential for successful pest management by using predators, especially for the suppression of novel invasive pest. The green lacewing Chrysopa formosa is a promising polyphagous predator that is widely used in the biocontrol of various pests in China, but information on the control efficiency of this predator against the seriously invasive pest Spodoptera frugiperda and native Spodoptera litura is limited. Here we evaluated the predation efficiency of C. formosa adults on eggs and first- to third-instar larvae of S. frugiperda and S. litura through functional response experiments and determined the consumption capacity and prey preference of this chrysopid. Adults of C. formosa had a high consumption of eggs and earlier instar larvae of both prey species, and displayed a type II functional response on all prey stages. Attack rates of the chrysopid on different prey stages were statistically similar, but the handling time increased notably as the prey developed. The highest predation efficiency and shortest-handling time were observed for C. formosa feeding on Spodoptera eggs, followed by the first-instar larvae. C. formosa exhibited a significant preference for S. litura over S. frugiperda in a two-prey system. In addition, we summarized the functional response and predation efficiency of several chrysopids against noctuid pests and made a comparison with the results obtained from C. formosa. These results indicate that C. formosa has potential as an agent for biological control of noctuid pests, particularly for the newly invasive pest S. frugiperda in China.
Athetis lepigone Möschler (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae) is a common maize pest in Europe and Asia. However, there is no long-term effective management strategy is available yet to suppress its population. Adults rely heavily on olfactory cues to locate their optimal host plants and oviposition sites. Pheromone-binding proteins (PBPs) are believed to be responsible for recognizing and transporting different odorant molecules to interact with receptor membrane proteins. In this study, the ligand-binding specificities of two AlepPBPs (AlepPBP2 and AlepPBP3) for sex pheromone components and host plant (maize) volatiles were measured by fluorescence ligand-binding assay. The results demonstrated that AlepPBP2 had a high affinity with two pheromones [(Z)-7-dodecenyl acetate, Ki = 1.11 ± 0.1 μM, (Z)-9-tetradecenyl acetate, Ki = 1.32 ± 0.15 μM] and ten plant volatiles, including (-)-limonene, α-pinene, myrcene, linalool, benzaldehyde, nonanal, 2-hexanone, 3-hexanone, 2-heptanone and 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one. In contrast, we found that none of these chemicals could bind to AlepPBP3. Our results clearly show no significant differences in the functional characterization of the binding properties between AlepPBP2 and AlepPBP3 to sex pheromones and host plant volatiles. Furthermore, molecular docking was employed for further detail on some crucial amino acid residues involved in the ligand-binding of AlepPBP2. These findings will provide valuable information about the potential protein binding sites necessary for protein-ligand interactions which appear as attractive targets for the development of novel technologies and management strategies for insect pests.
Spodoptera litura is an important pest that causes significant economic damage to numerous crops worldwide. Sex pheromones (SPs) mediate sexual communication in S. litura and show a characteristic degree of rhythmic activity, occurring mainly during the scotophase; however, the specific regulatory mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we employed a genome-wide analysis to identify eight candidate circadian clock genes in S. litura. Sequence characteristics and expression patterns were analyzed. Our results demonstrated that some circadian clock genes might regulate the biosynthesis and perception of SPs by regulating the rhythmic expression of SP biosynthesis-related genes and SP perception-related genes. Interestingly, all potential genes exhibited peak expression in the scotophase, consistent with the SP could mediate courtship and mating behavior in S. litura. Our findings are helpful in elucidating the molecular mechanism by which circadian clock genes regulate sexual communication in S. litura.
The tobacco cutworm Spodoptera litura (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) is a polyphagous pest with a highly selective and sensitive chemosensory system involved in complex physiological behaviors such as searching for food sources, feeding, courtship, and oviposition. However, effective management strategies for controlling the insect pest populations under threshold levels are lacking. Therefore, there is an urgent need to formulate eco-friendly pest control strategies based on the disruption of the insect chemosensory system. In this study, we identified 158 putative chemosensory genes based on transcriptomic and genomic data for S. litura, including 45 odorant-binding proteins (OBPs, nine were new), 23 chemosensory proteins (CSPs), 60 odorant receptors (ORs, three were new), and 30 gustatory receptors (GRs, three were new), a number higher than those reported by previous transcriptome studies. Subsequently, we constructed phylogenetic trees based on these genes in moths and analyzed the dynamic expression of various genes in head capsules across larval instars using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Nine genes–SlitOBP8, SlitOBP9, SlitOBP25, SlitCSP1, SlitCSP7, SlitCSP18, SlitOR34, SlitGR240, and SlitGR242–were highly expressed in the heads of 3- to 5-day-old S. litura larvae. The genes differentially expressed in olfactory organs during larval development might play crucial roles in the chemosensory system of S. litura larvae. Our findings substantially expand the gene inventory for S. litura and present potential target genes for further studies on larval feeding in S. litura.
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