The impact of Bt maize as a natal host on adult head capsule width in field populations of western corn rootworm

Alexzandra F. Murphy, Nicholas J. Seiter, Christian H. Krupke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The success of the current resistance management plan for transgenic maize, Zea mays L. (Poaceae), targeting the rootworm complex hinges upon high rates of mating between resistant and susceptible beetles. However, differences in the fitness of adult beetles could result in assortative mating, which could, in turn, change the rate of resistance evolution. Adult head capsule widths of naturally occurring populations of western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), were examined in a variety of refuge configurations. Beetles were classified into treatments based on the hybrid - non-Bt refuge or Bt maize targeting larval rootworms (hereafter Bt-RW maize) - and location - proximity to other Bt-RW or refuge plants - of the natal host plant. Treatments included the following: a refuge plant surrounded by other refuge plants, a refuge plant located near a Bt-RW plant, a Bt-RW plant surrounded by Bt-RW plants, and a Bt-RW plant located near a refuge plant. The mean head capsule width of males emerging from Bt-RW plants was significantly smaller than the mean head capsule width of males emerging from refuge plants. These results indicate that males emerging from Bt-RW maize plants may be exposed to sublethal doses of the Bt toxin as larvae. No differences were detected between females emerging from refuge plants compared with Bt-RW plants. Overall mean head capsule width decreased as the season progressed, regardless of treatment. The diminished head capsule width of western corn rootworm males emerging from Bt-RW maize may act to enhance resistance management, particularly in a seed mix refuge system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-16
Number of pages9
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Chrysomelidae
  • Coleoptera
  • Corn pest
  • Diabrotica virgifera virgifera
  • Fitness
  • Poaceae
  • Resistance management
  • Seed mix refuge
  • Transgenic maize
  • Zea mays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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