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Int J Biol Sci 2013; 9(3):246-255. doi:10.7150/ijbs.5762

Research Paper

Assessment of Potential Sublethal Effects of Various Insecticides on Key Biological Traits of The Tobacco Whitefly, Bemisia tabaci

Yuxian He1,2, Jianwei Zhao2, Yu Zheng2, Qiyong Weng2, Antonio Biondi3,4, Nicolas Desneux3, Kongming Wu1✉

1. State Key Laboratory for Biology of Plant Diseases and Insect Pests, Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100193, People's Republic of China.
2. Institute of Plant Protection, Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Fuzhou 350013, People's Republic of China.
3. French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), 400 route des chappes, 06903 Sophia Antipolis, France.
4. University of Catania, Department of Agri-food and Environmental Systems Management, Via Santa Sofia 100, 95123 Catania, Italy.

Abstract

The tobacco whitefly Bemisia tabaci is one of the most devastating pests worldwide. Current management of B. tabaci relies upon the frequent applications of insecticides. In addition to direct mortality by typical acute toxicity (lethal effect), insecticides may also impair various key biological traits of the exposed insects through physiological and behavioral sublethal effects. Identifying and characterizing such effects could be crucial for understanding the global effects of insecticides on the pest and therefore for optimizing its management in the crops. We assessed the effects of sublethal and low-lethal concentrations of four widely used insecticides on the fecundity, honeydew excretion and feeding behavior of B. tabaci adults. The probing activity of the whiteflies feeding on treated cotton seedlings was recorded by an Electrical Penetration Graph (EPG). The results showed that imidacloprid and bifenthrin caused a reduction in phloem feeding even at sublethal concentrations. In addition, the honeydew excretions and fecundity levels of adults feeding on leaf discs treated with these concentrations were significantly lower than the untreated ones. While, sublethal concentrations of chlorpyrifos and carbosulfan did not affect feeding behavior, honeydew excretion and fecundity of the whitefly. We demonstrated an antifeedant effect of the imidacloprid and bifenthrin on B. tabaci, whereas behavioral changes in adults feeding on leaves treated with chlorpyrifos and carbosulfan were more likely caused by the direct effects of the insecticides on the insects' nervous system itself. Our results show that aside from the lethal effect, the sublethal concentration of imidacloprid and bifenthrin impairs the phloem feeding, i.e. the most important feeding trait in a plant protection perspective. Indeed, this antifeedant property would give these insecticides potential to control insect pests indirectly. Therefore, the behavioral effects of sublethal concentrations of imidacloprid and bifenthrin may play an important role in the control of whitefly pests by increasing the toxicity persistence in treated crops.

Keywords: ecotoxicology, Electrical Penetration Graph, feeding behavior, honeydew excretion, fecundity.

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How to cite this article:
He Y, Zhao J, Zheng Y, Weng Q, Biondi A, Desneux N, Wu K. Assessment of Potential Sublethal Effects of Various Insecticides on Key Biological Traits of The Tobacco Whitefly, Bemisia tabaci. Int J Biol Sci 2013; 9(3):246-255. doi:10.7150/ijbs.5762. Available from http://www.ijbs.com/v09p0246.htm