Selection of a Nucleopolyhedrovirus for Control of Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae): Structural, Genetic, and Biological Comparison of Four Isolates from the Americas

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Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) is the principal pest of maize in tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. Larvae of this species are susceptible to a nucleopolyhedrovirus (NPV) which has attracted interest as a potential biocontrol agent. Four strains of NPV isolated from infected S. frugiperda larvae in the United States, Nicaragua, and Argentina were subjected to a structural, genetic, and biological comparison to select a candidate isolate for use in biocontrol experiments in Mexico and Honduras. All isolates had an occlusion body polyhedrin protein of 32 kDa, but the virions of each isolate differed subtly in the pattern and abundance of certain structural polypeptides revealed by SDS-PAGE analysis. Restriction endonuclease analysis of viral DNA confirmed that these isolates were strains of a single virus species but showed that they were not genetically homogeneous; each isolate could be differentiated from the others using common restriction enzymes. Droplet feeding bioassays indicated that an isolate from Nicaragua (Sf-NIC) and an isolate from the United States (Sf-US) had the highest infectivity when tested against 2nd instars originating from a Honduran S. frugiperda colony. No significant differences were detected in the speed of kill of Sf-NIC (102.7 h), Sf-US (102.3 h), and Sf-AR (103.4 h), whereas that of Sf-2 (97.3 h) was significantly shorter. Additional bioassays of the Sf-NIC isolate against 2nd to 6th instars demonstrated that LC50 values increased with larval stage from 2.03 × 105 OBs/ml for 2nd instars to 1.84 × 108 OBs/ml for 5th instars. The concentration required to elicit a lethal infection of 6th instars was so high that a reliable estimate of LC50 could not be obtained. The mean time to death for each stage challenged with the Sf-NIC isolate increased with instar from an average of 102.7 h in 2nd instars to 136.9 h in 5th instars.

Keywords: Spodoptera frugiperda; baculovirus; bioinsecticide; geographic isolates; nucleopolyhedrovirus

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 1999

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