On-plant selection and genetic analysis of European corn borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) behavioral traits: plant abandonment versus plant establishment

Environ Entomol. 2014 Oct;43(5):1254-63. doi: 10.1603/EN14107. Epub 2014 Sep 8.


Although some studies have investigated how insect behavior could influence resistance evolution to transgenic plants, none have determined if behavioral traits respond to selection pressure and how they may be inherited. We investigated plant establishment and abandonment traits for the European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalisi (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), by conducting a laboratory selection experiment and quantifying patterns of gene expression. Egg masses with emerging larvae were placed on maize plants and silking individuals were collected every 15 min during a 4-h period to generate a plant abandonment (PA) colony. Plants were dissected 24-72 h later, and larvae were collected for a plant establishment colony. Selection of the PA colony showed an increased propensity to abandon the host plant by the third generation. The propensity for larvae to establish on the plants, however, did not show a significant response until the sixth generation. Quantitative real-time-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was used to determine expression profiles for behavior associated genes (foraging and Onslmo). Egg samples from the two selected colonies and nonselected laboratory colony were collected at 0, 24, 48, 72, and 96 h after egg deposition, and first instars were sampled after exposure to maize tissue. Compared with the plant establishment and nonselected laboratory colonies at the 0-h time period, foraging and Onslmo showed higher expression in the PA colony. This is the first study that has specifically selected for these traits over several generations and analyzed behavior-associated genes to elucidate genetic changes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Gene Expression
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Larva / genetics
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Larva / physiology
  • Moths / genetics
  • Moths / growth & development
  • Moths / physiology*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Zea mays / growth & development


  • Insect Proteins