Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Parthenogenesis in UK field populations of the tomato leaf miner, Tuta absoluta, exposed to the mating disruptor isonet T.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta is a damaging pest of tomato crops worldwide. In the UK T. absoluta is controlled using an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy that includes pheromone-based mating disruption. However, some growers have reported a loss of efficacy of this technology, and there are concerns that T. absoluta may evolve resistance via changes in its capacity to reproduce asexually. In this study we investigated the reproductive capacity of virgin populations of T. absoluta collected from a UK glasshouse before (EVH2016) and after (EVH2019) the introduction of the mating disrupter Isonet T. RESULTS: In line with earlier reports, we demonstrate that UK populations of T. absoluta can reproduce parthenogenetically, and observed a small but significant increase in the rate of parthenogenesis associated with the use of Isonet T. Marked differences in several other life history traits associated with reproduction were also observed between the two virgin populations, with the EVH2019 strain producing fewer eggs, a delayed onset of egg laying and increased lifespan. CONCLUSION: The low rate of parthenogenetic reproduction seen in this study is unlikely to result in loss of efficacy of mating disruption. However, the observed changes in longevity and egg laying may allow T. absoluta to persist for longer within the crop, and, together with the increased rate of parthenogenesis, may reflect selection from the use of Isonet T. Thus, regular monitoring of the reproductive capacity of UK populations should be conducted, and mating disruption used only as part of IPM to avoid the emergence of resistance.