Identification of economic wireworms using traditional and molecular methods
Etzler, Frank Eric
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Interest in wireworms has grown in the past decade due to their increasing pest status, largely due to the removal of effective seed treatments from the market. Currently, there is no effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy to control for wireworms, due to the diverse number of species that make up complexes in cropland. The purpose of this study was to determine what wireworm species are present in Montana's croplands and develop tools to make species concepts accessible to non-specialists. This was done using DNA barcoding to associate wireworms with adults. DNA barcoding was done by amplifying the Cytochrome-Oxidase I (COI) region of the mitochondrial genome. Twenty-nine (29) species were successfully sequenced and 13 species had adult and larval associations made, including three new associations. In addition, a LUCID pictorial key was also created to help identify species occurring in Montana. A LUCID key is a computer-based key where a user identifies a specimen with the help of pictures of each character. During the wireworm study, one species-group in the genus Limonius was found to include many economic species, including two that are important in Montana. This group needed to be reevaluated due to controversies raised in a recent revision, many of which dealt with economic species. With the combined use of morphological characters and DNA data, eight species are now recognized as belonging to the group. All of these subprojects show the combined use of DNA and morphology as essential to fully understanding wireworm species. With a more precise knowledge of the species that make up the complexes in Montana's croplands, we can focus on developing IPM stratetgies for efficient control.