Geographic variation of bacterial communities associated with cotton fleahopper, Pseudatomoscelis seriatus

Monday, November 11, 2013: 10:12 AM
Meeting Room 17 B (Austin Convention Center)
Josephine Antwi , Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Gregory Sword , Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Raul Medina , Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
The cotton fleahopper, Pseudatomoscelis seriatus (Hemiptera: Miridae) is emerging as a secondary pest on cotton due to the success of the Boll Weevil Eradication Program, the widespread use of transgenic cotton against major pests, and the reduction in traditional broad-spectrum insecticide applications. The cotton fleahopper attacks early growth stages of cotton and cause serious damage such as flower and bud abscission and stunted growth. Although the cotton fleahopper is widely distributed across the US cotton-growing region (cotton belt), it is considered a serious pest only in certain regions while in others it is only an occasional pest. Variation in ecological factors (biotic and abiotic) and management practices within the cotton belt may modulate the impact of the cotton fleahopper as a pest. This study investigates the potential role of bacterial symbionts as drivers of variation in the pest status of the cotton fleahopper. In addition to improving the nutritional quality of plant food, some bacterial symbionts confer their insect hosts the ability to overcome heat stress, resist natural enemy attack and tolerate relatively high concentrations of insecticides. Using 454 pyrosequencing we compared the microbiome of cotton fleahoppers from cotton fields across the cotton belt.  Bacterial species richness was high in the southeastern US and eastern regions of Texas but it decreased westward. Structured bacterial communities did not explain the pest status of fleahopper in the cotton belt. The implications of our results to the ecology and management of the cotton fleahopper across the cotton belt are discussed.