With the advent of transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)-cowpea, there is a need to identify the feeding preferences of Maruca vitrata Fab. to determine in which component of the plant the expression of the toxin needs to be the highest to ensure the greatest efficacy of insecticidal Bt proteins. In the current study, we examined the feeding preferences of M. vitrata larvae in a naturally infested cowpea field. We also tested, in the laboratory, the suitability of different flower components for the larval development of M. vitrata. Our results indicate that in the field, all types of flowers, regardless of their age, were infested with M. vitrata larvae. The reproductive organs, in the flowers, were the preferred feeding diet for the larvae. Laboratory bioassays confirmed that the reproductive organs were the optimal tissues for M. vitrata larval development. The implications of these findings for transgenic Bt-cowpea are discussed.
- Flower components
- Larval development
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science