Sexual communication of Spodoptera frugiperda from West Africa: adaptation of an invasive species and implications for pest management.
The pest species Spodoptera frugiperda, which is native to North and South America, has invaded Africa in 2016. The species consists of two strains, the corn-strain and rice-strain, which differ in their sexual communication. When we investigated populations from Benin and Nigeria, consisting of corn-strain and rice-corn-hybrid descendants, we found no strain-specific sexual communication differences. Both genotypes exhibited the same pheromone composition, consisting of around 97% (Z)-9-tetradecenyl acetate (Z9-14:Ac), 2% (Z)-7-dodecenyl acetate (Z7-12:Ac), and 1% (Z)-9-dodecenyl acetate (Z9-12:Ac), they had similar electrophysiological responses, and all mated around three hours into scotophase. However, we found geographic variation between African and American populations. The sex pheromone of African corn-strain and hybrid descendant females was similar to American rice-strain females and showed higher percentages of the male-attracting minor component Z7-12:Ac. In addition, African males exhibited the highest antennal sensitivity towards Z7-12:Ac, while American males showed highest sensitivity towards the major pheromone component Z9-14:Ac. Increasing the production of and response to the critical minor component Z7-12:Ac may reduce communication interference with other African Spodoptera species that share the same major pheromone component. The implications of our results on pheromone-based pest management strategies are discussed.