Researchers have succeeded in sequencing one of the first genomes of a moth belonging to the superfamily Noctuoidea.
Photo: © CEA / INRA

10.11.2017

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An international consortium has sequenced one of the first genomes of a moth from the superfamily Noctuoidea: Spodoptera frugiperda, or fall armyworm. Maize, rice and soybeans are among the plant species attacked by this pest.

Spodoptera frugiperda is a moth belonging to the superfamily Noctuoidea. It is also called Armyworm because the caterpillars are sometimes so numerous that they form “carpets” on the ground, similar to an army on the march. Unlike the majority of herbivorous insects, the Armyworm is highly polyphagous: it attacks over one hundred plant species, including crops (maize, rice, sorghum, cotton and soybean).  The moth moves in large swarms and is able to fly long distances.
 
Until now limited to America and the Caribbean, Spodoptera frugiperda is estimated to cause 600 million dollars in damage in Brazil every year according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In America, 67 cases of insect resistance to pesticides have been identified to date, illustrating the difficulty of controlling these populations. Since January 2016, it has become invasive in Africa, where it destroys maize crops in 21 countries in the southern and western parts of the continent.

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