Entomology, Department of


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Entomology, Under the Supervision of Professors Thomas E. Hunt and John E. Foster. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2011

Copyright 2011 Erica J. Lindroth


The western bean cutworm, Striacosta albicosta (Smith), is a secondary pest of maize (Zea mays L.) and dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) in the western United States. Recently, this insect has undergone a major territory expansion into the eastern US and has become a pest throughout much of the Corn Belt. This study was instigated to examine the population genetics of this pest to facilitate control and resistance management, as well as to shed light on the current habitat expansion. To this end, western bean cutworm individuals were collected from 28 different locations across the traditional and expanded range and amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis was conducted to assess genetic variability. A total of 90 markers were analyzed, encompassing >90% of genetic variation. Gst across all locations was low (Gst = 0.0385), while gene flow among all locations was high (Nm = 12.929). AMOVA analysis revealed that the majority of genetic variation is within locations (54%), suggesting interbreeding between locations. The Mantel test revealed no correlation between geographic and genetic distance (n = 600, r = 0.036553, p = 0.226000). Locations sampled in the eastern US did not exhibit any reduction in genetic variation in comparison to locations sampled in the western US, so I conclude that no bottleneck event has occurred. These results suggest that there is enough gene flow between geographically distant locations to prevent genetic isolation from occurring. It is also possible that the western bean cutworm in the eastern US is too recently established to exhibit any genetic differentiation from the western US.