Publication Date: 2017.
The Helicoverpa/Heliothis complex can cause serious damage to agricultural crops. Phenotypic similarity makes it difficult to discriminate between closely related Helicoverpa species. Currently, morphology of the male genitalia complemented with molecular techniques constitutes the best approach for species identification. In this work, a broad microscopic examination of adult Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) males (n:200) captured in central Argentina was carried out in order to provide a detailed description of the valvae and the phallus. A considerable degree of variability was recorded. Both rounded and sharp valve apices were observed and valvae were not always parallel-sided. Most evident differences were detected concerning the number of cornuti on the phallus. A range of 15?21 cornuti per phallus was recorded, the mode being 18. A significant minority of the samples (3.5%) displayed an abnormal genital condition showinga constricted phallus lacking cornuti, and pointed valvae. This form was initially attributed to a distinct species, Heliothis stombleri, and later proposed as a synonym of H. zea based on additional morphological observations and molecular studies. Here, a phylogenetic analysis combining mitochondrial (cytochrome oxidase subunit I) and nuclear (elongation factor ?1 alpha) genes was performed on these and other Helicoverpa specimens collected in the same geographical region, in order to further verify the taxonomic status of H. stombleri. The tree topology clearly grouped H. stombleri with H. zea, supporting the assumption that the former represents, in fact, an anomalous form of the latter. Further experiments are needed to clarify the etiology of this anomaly and its persistence over time.
Author affiliation: Balbi, Emilia I.. Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria; Argentina
Author affiliation: Flores, Fernando M.. Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria; Argentina
Author affiliation: Tosto, Daniela Sandra. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas; Argentina. Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria. Centro de Investigación en Ciencias Veterinarias y Agronómicas. Instituto de Biotecnología; Argentina
Author affiliation: Arneodo Larochette, Joel Demián. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas; Argentina. Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria. Centro de Investigación en Ciencias Veterinarias y Agronómicas. Instituto de Microbiología y Zoología Agrícola; Argentina
Repository: CONICET Digital (CONICET). Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas