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Genetic identification of morphologically cryptic agricultural pests

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1 Wireworms are the polyphagous larvae of click beetles and are well known as agricultural pests. Larvae of the genus Agriotes are internationally recognized as economically important pests of potato. Historically associated with crop damage after conversion of grassland, they are an increasing problem even in all-arable rotations.

2 Current studies of Agriotes ecology and behaviour, and consequently control and management, are seriously hampered by the lack of a means of reliably identifying larvae owing to morphological crypsis during this life-stage.

3 Here, sequence data at the mitochondrial 16SrRNA gene are presented for three species of wireworm: Agriotes obscurus, A. lineatus, and A. sputator. A novel terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) technique is described that identifies larvae of these species. This technique is shown to be both efficient and reliable. Interestingly, thus far the samples tested have yielded no A. lineatus. Implications for future study of wireworm ecology and control are discussed.
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Keywords: Agriotes; Terminal-RFLP; management; mitochondrial DNA; potato; wireworm

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: ADAS, Woodthorne, Wolverhampton, WV6 8TQ, U.K.

Publication date: 2009-02-01

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