Comparative toxicity of mycotoxins to navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella) and corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea)

Guodong Niu, Joel Siegel, Mary A. Schuler, May R. Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mycotoxins, such as aflatoxins and ochratoxins, are widely distributed in nature and are frequently problematic crop contaminants that cause millions of dollars of annual losses in the United States. Insect infestations of crop plants significantly exacerbate mycotoxin contamination. Damage to a variety of nut species by Amyelois transitella Walker (navel orangeworm, NOW) is associated with infection by Aspergillus species and concomitant production of aflatoxins and ochratoxins. Resistance to aflatoxins in this lepidopteran is compared here with the levels of resistance in Helicoverpa zea (corn earworm, CEW), another lepidopteran that routinely encounters aflatoxins in its diet, albeit at lower levels. Measured as the developmental delay caused by aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), it is apparent that the LC50 (defined as the concentration preventing 50% of newly hatched larvae from entering the 2nd instar within 48 h) for AFB1 is 100 times greater for A. transitella than for H. zea. Similarly, A. transitella 1st instars display substantially higher tolerance to ochratoxin A, another mycotoxin contaminant produced by Aspergillus species, than do H. zea. Our studies indicate that A. transitella, although a hostplant generalist, may well be highly specialized for mycotoxin detoxification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)951-957
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2009


  • Aflatoxin
  • Amyelois transitella
  • Helicoverpa zea
  • Lepidoptera
  • Ochratoxin
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparative toxicity of mycotoxins to navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella) and corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this