Efficacy of Bt maize for control of Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in South Africa.
Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith) is an invasive pest species that threatens maize production by small holder farmers in Africa. Bt maize that express Cry proteins have been used effectively for control of this pest in the United States, Canada, and several countries in South America. Spodoptera frugiperda has evolved resistance to Cry1F Bt maize in Puerto Rico, Brazil and United States, and Cry1Ab Bt maize in Brazil. This study provides the first data on the efficacy of Bt maize for the control of S. frugiperda in Africa. Susceptibility levels of nine S. frugiperda populations were evaluated between January 2018 and May 2018, including a laboratory reared reference population. Larval feeding bioassays were conducted in which plant tissue of maize expressing Cry1Ab (single-toxin event - designated Bt1) or Cry1A.105 + Cry2Ab2 (pyramid-toxin event - designated Bt2), were fed to larvae. Survival and different life history parameters were recorded. Results indicate moderate survival on Bt1 maize, which supports field observations of commercial level control provided by this event. Very high levels of S. frugiperda larval mortality occurred on Bt2 maize (<1% survival). The moderate susceptibility of S. frugiperda to Cry1Ab could be ascribed to the latter being a low-dose event for this pest, as well as the fact that the individuals which initially arrived on the continent may have carried alleles with resistance to this protein. Moderate overall survivorship (4-35%) of S. frugiperda on Cry1Ab maize in South Africa reflects the possible presence of alleles resistant to this toxin, indicating the importance of future resistance monitoring. :.