Phenotypic trait changes in laboratory - Reared colonies of the maize herbivore, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera

H. Li, T. Guillemaud, B. W. French, U. Kuhlmann, S. Toepfer

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The North American and European maize pest Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) was used to assess whether conditions of the natal field, subsequent laboratory rearing, or genetic population origin affect phenotypic traits of fitness, activity, or morphometrics. Standardized laboratory bioassays with large sample sizes revealed that none of the 16 tested traits, except crawling behaviours, appeared consistently stable across all seven tested colonies. Environmental conditions in the natal field of the F 0 generation affected trait averages of the subsequently reared F 1 generation in laboratory in ca. 47% of cases, and trait variability in 67% of cases. This was apparent for fitness and morphometrics, but less obvious for activity traits. Early generation laboratory rearing affected trait averages in ca. 56% of cases: morphometrics changed; fecundity and egg survival increased from F 1 to F 2. Trait variability increased or decreased in 38% of cases. Laboratory rearing for over more than 190 generations affected the trait averages in 60% of cases, reflected by decreases in flight activity and increases in body size, weight, and fecundity to some extent. It had little effect on trait variability, especially so for morphometric variability. The genetic population origin affected average levels of 55% and variability of 63% of phenotypic traits. A comparison among D. v. virgifera studies might be difficult if they use different populations or laboratory colonies. It is advised to consider possible effects of original field conditions, laboratory rearing, and population genetics when planning comparative studies targeting fitness, activity, or morphometric questions regarding Diabrotica species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-115
Number of pages19
JournalBulletin of Entomological Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014



  • Activity
  • Chrysomelidae
  • Coleoptera
  • Fitness
  • Generation number
  • Morphometrics
  • Phenotypic traits
  • Western corn rootworm
  • Zea mays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science

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