Three plusiine species, Autographa nigrisigna, Macdunnoughia confusa, and Thysanoplusia intermixta (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), are commonly found together in lettuce, Lactuca sativa L., fields in Japan. Given the marked morphological similarities between these species and the difficulty associated with discriminating between them using only visual cues, we used multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay to distinguish between the three target species. Multiplex PCR uses four primers to simultaneously amplify a specific region of the mitochondrial DNA and produce species-specific banding patterns. The stringency of the method was tested using specimens of different sex, location, and developmental stage, and consistent results were obtained for all samples. Indeed, our method has the potential to clarify the species structure of plusiine species in lettuce fields.
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Vol. 104 • No. 4