A new study from a University of Maryland-led team of researchers confirms the long held idea that the Colorado potato beetle, by far the most damaging insect to the U.S. — and Canadian — potato industry, originated in the Great Plains region of the United States. The findings dispel more recent theories that this beetle may have come from Mexico or other divergent populations. The beetle is consistently a major issue for potato farmers in North America and Europe. By determining the origins of this pest and better understanding its genetic makeup, this new investigative evolutionary biology work could advance efforts to develop better pest management strategies that combat the potato beetle’s unique pesticide resistance abilities.
“With this study, we were trying to gain insight into two major questions: Where did the potato beetle come from? And why do they evolve resistance so quickly?” said lead author David Hawthorne, Ph.D., associate professor in the entomology department at the University of Maryland. “This would have major implications in controlling the pest…” More