Diabrotica species (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) larval behavior studies have posed a challenge to researchers because of the subterranean life cycle of this pest. To fully understand how the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, injures the maize, Zea mays L., root system, its behavior must be studied. For example, larvae that can detect an area of the root that has a lower amount of toxin, whether from an insecticide or a transgenic maize plant, have an increased chance of survival. This study assessed D. v. virgifera larval feeding behavior on rootworm-susceptible maize and maize containing a biotechnology-derived trait (MON 863) with resistance to D. v. virgifera first instar feeding. Maize plants were grown in a medium that allowed for direct observation and measurements during feeding of larval stadia. Neonates were placed on maize seedlings, and data were taken at 3, 6, 9, and 12 d postinfestation on resistant and susceptible maize. On rootworm-susceptible maize, neonate larvae aggregated at the root tips and began actively feeding, and then they moved to older root tissue. Conversely, some larvae that ingested Cry 3Bb1 from the resistant maize exhibited no movement. Other larvae on the resistant maize moved continuously, sampling root hairs or root tissue but not actively feeding. The continuously moving larvae had visibly empty guts, suggesting possible nonpreference for the resistant root. This study contributes to our understanding of D. v. virgifera larval behavior and provides insight into questions surrounding the potential evolution of behavioral and biochemical resistance to Cry3Bb1.
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Vol. 99 • No. 3