Effect of Ecdysteroid UDP-Glucosyltransferase Gene Deletion on Efficacy of a Baculovirus Against Heliothis virescens and Trichoplusia ni (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

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Laboratory, greenhouse, and field studies were conducted to characterize the biological activity of a genetically altered form of Autographa californica (Speyer) nucleopolyhedrosis virus (AcNPV). The altered baculovirus (vEGTDEL) had a deletion in the ecdysteroid UDP-glucosyltransferase gene. Results from bioassays conducted with neonate and 3rd-instar tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens (F.), as well as with 3rd-instar cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni (Hübner), showed vEGTDEL caused larval death slightly, but significantly, quicker than AcNPV. Based on supposition (LT50 values were not calculated), it appeared that larval mortality occurred 0.5 -1.0 d faster following exposure to vEGTDEL versus AcNPV. Greenhouse studies conducted against H. virescens on cotton showed that hastened virulence exhibited by vEGTDEL led to improved plant protection versus AcNPV. For example, following 5 weekly sessions of foliar application and H. virescens artificial infestation, cotton treated with wettable powder formulations of vEGTDEL or AcNPV at 2.5 X 1012OB/ha averaged 25.7 and 61.8% damaged flower buds, respectively. Although vEGTDEL tended to provide more consistent control of T. ni than AcNPV in greenhouse and field trials conducted on leafy vegetables, differences in efficacy between the 2 baculoviruses were marginal and usually not statistically significant. Generally, results from these studies suggest that genetic modification of NPVs to hasten their lethal effect may be a promising strategy for improving the insecticidal properties of the insect-specific pathogens.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 1997

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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