Fall armyworm is a major economic pest throughout the Western Hemisphere. Previous studies of populations in the southern United States, Brazil, and the Caribbean demonstrated the existence of two morphologically identical but genetically distinct host strains that can only be distinguished using genetic markers, including polymorphisms in the mitochondrial Cytochrome Oxidase I (COI) gene and in the Z-chromosome linked Triose phosphate isomerase (Tpi) gene. The strains differ in some physiological and behavioral characteristics, most notably their preference for different plant hosts, but are capable of hybridizing in the laboratory and in the field. These traits suggest that the strains are in the process of divergence, which may or may not be hemispheric in scope. The objective of this study was to determine whether the two strains are present in Argentina. It was found that the strain-diagnostic haplotypes of the COI and Tpi genes subdivided the Argentina population into two major groups. Each group displayed biases in their distribution among different host plants that were generally consistent with expected strain behavior. The overall results indicated that Argentina fall armyworm exhibit similar genetics and behavior to populations in the rest of the hemisphere. In addition, the Argentina populations had comparable haplotype frequencies to those from Brazil and Texas, consistent with possible interactions with these fall armyworm groups, but appeared to have had minimal exchanges with those from Puerto Rico or Florida.
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Vol. 105 • No. 2