Poster Title

Suppression of Heliothine Pest Populations by HZNV-2 Nudivirus

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Junior

Institution

University of Kentucky

KY House District #

63

KY Senate District #

23

Department

Entomology

Abstract

Heliothine pests, including Helicoverpa zea1, Helicoverpa armigera, and Heliothis virescens2, are noctuid3 moths and invasive species4 that cause billions of dollars of damage to crops each year. Their damage can be catastrophic to numerous host plants such as tomatoes, cotton, tobacco and corn because these pests feed on the fruit of the plant. Current natural and biological controls5 often fail to prevent damage caused by these insect pests, which supports continued research into other control methods for Helicoverpa zea. The HZNV-2 nudivirus6 is a sexually transmitted insect virus that causes insect sterility when it is in the lytic cycle. HzNV-2 deforms the reproductive tracts of both males and females, reduces eggs produced by females, creates sterile progeny, increases the amount of pheromones produced by females, and fails to produce pheromone static peptide7 in males when infected. Unfortunately, this wild-type virus enters a latent8 phase two-thirds of the time and causes no damage to the reproductive organs or reduction in fecundity. Our lab has produced viral mutants9 of HVNZ-2 that increase virulence of the disease. Virus latency is decreased in the insects with viral mutants causing sterility from 80-100% of the time. This report describes wildtype HZNV-2 and mutant HzNV-2 infections in a non-host pest species, Heliothis virescens, commonly referred to as the tobacco budworm, to determine if this virus will replicate and cause similar defects in other, closely related pest insects. We are investigating the suppression of Heliothine pest populations10 by producing virus-infected sterile moths, and we predict that HZNV-2 will be an effective biological control of Heliothine pests in the future.

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Suppression of Heliothine Pest Populations by HZNV-2 Nudivirus

Heliothine pests, including Helicoverpa zea1, Helicoverpa armigera, and Heliothis virescens2, are noctuid3 moths and invasive species4 that cause billions of dollars of damage to crops each year. Their damage can be catastrophic to numerous host plants such as tomatoes, cotton, tobacco and corn because these pests feed on the fruit of the plant. Current natural and biological controls5 often fail to prevent damage caused by these insect pests, which supports continued research into other control methods for Helicoverpa zea. The HZNV-2 nudivirus6 is a sexually transmitted insect virus that causes insect sterility when it is in the lytic cycle. HzNV-2 deforms the reproductive tracts of both males and females, reduces eggs produced by females, creates sterile progeny, increases the amount of pheromones produced by females, and fails to produce pheromone static peptide7 in males when infected. Unfortunately, this wild-type virus enters a latent8 phase two-thirds of the time and causes no damage to the reproductive organs or reduction in fecundity. Our lab has produced viral mutants9 of HVNZ-2 that increase virulence of the disease. Virus latency is decreased in the insects with viral mutants causing sterility from 80-100% of the time. This report describes wildtype HZNV-2 and mutant HzNV-2 infections in a non-host pest species, Heliothis virescens, commonly referred to as the tobacco budworm, to determine if this virus will replicate and cause similar defects in other, closely related pest insects. We are investigating the suppression of Heliothine pest populations10 by producing virus-infected sterile moths, and we predict that HZNV-2 will be an effective biological control of Heliothine pests in the future.