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- greenbug; sorghum; insect-plant interactions; biotypes
Greenbug is one of two key insect pests of sorghum, and biotype evolution hinders the long-term usefulness of resistant sorghums. The current study sought to identify plant resistance mechanisms, plant damage characteristics, and greenbug fitness in sorghum/greenbug interactions. Choice tests were conducted to elucidate resistance mechanisms displayed by four sorghum genotypes towards several greenbug biotypes and isolates. Results indicated all three resistance modalities (antibiosis, antixenosis, tolerance) were identified in sorghums, with some genotypes displaying two or more modalities towards some biotypes. This suggests some sorghum genotypes do not select for greenbug biotypes, and the sorghum genotypes cultivated may have relatively long-term resistance. Non-choice tests were used to determine plant damage associated with greenbug feeding. Four sorghum genotype, Johnson grass, and five greenbug biotype combinations were used to elucidate plant characteristics associated with visible plant damage. Fluid loss and plant stunting were significantly associated with visible plant damage, and were also observed in some plants not incurring heavy visible damage. Additionally, some biotypes avirulent to cultivated sorghum caused significant damage to Johnson grass. These results suggest visible plant damage, routinely used in damage studies, reflects underlying causes that could lead to poor agronomic performance. Additionally, Johnson grass may harbor greenbug biotypes not commonly found in sorghum fields. Greenbug colony and individual fitness were determined by reproduction rates of five biotypes on four sorghum genotypes and Johnson grass in non-choice tests. Generally, colony and individual fitness estimates were not different within genotype/biotype combinations. Also, biotypes did best on more susceptible and worst on more resistant sorghum genotypes. Colonies and individuals of all biotypes had lowest fitness on Johnson grass. These results suggest virulent biotypes may have a fitness advantage over avirulent ones, at least in the presence of the cultivated host. The results presented herein reflect the diversity of sorghum/greenbug interactions, and underscore the need for further understanding of the nature of greenbug biotypes, and how they interact with cultivated and non-cultivated host plants.