Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Pheromonal variation and mating between two mitotypes of fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) in Africa

Sisay, Birhanu; Tamiru, Amanuel; Subramanian, Sevgan; Weldon, Christopher W.; Khamis, Fathiya; Green, Kristina Karlsson; Anderson, Peter; Torto, Baldwyn


In the Americas, the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) exists in two genetically distinct strains, the corn (C) and rice (R) strains. Despite their names, these strains are not associated with host plant preferences but have been shown to vary in pheromone composition and male responses. Recently, S. frugiperda was detected in Africa as an invasive species, but knowledge about variation in strain types, pheromone composition and inter-strain mating of populations of the pest in the continent has not been fully examined. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate variations, if any in the pheromone composition of female moths, male moth responses, and mating between C and R mitotypes of S. frugiperda populations in Kenya, as well as their geographic distribution. Strains (mitotypes) of S. frugiperda were identified using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) markers, and their pheromonal composition determined by coupled gas chromatography-mass spectrometric (GC-MS) analysis. Male moth responses to these compounds were evaluated using GC-electroantennographic detection (EAD), electroantennogram (EAG), and wind tunnel assays. Oviposition assays were used to determine whether R and C mitotype moths could mate and produce eggs. The results showed that both the R and C mitotypes were present, and there were no statistically significant differences in their distribution across all sampled locations. Five pheromone compounds including (Z)-7-dodecenyl acetate (Z7-12:OAc), (Z)-7-tetradecenyl acetate (Z7-14:OAc), (Z)-9-tetradecenyl acetate (Z9-14:OAc), (Z)-11-tetradecenyl acetate (Z11-14:OAc) and (Z)-11-hexadecenyl acetate (Z11-16:OAc), were detected in the pheromone glands of female moths of both mitotypes, with Z9-14:OAc being the most abundant. The relative percentage composition of Z9-14:OAc was similar in both mitotypes. However, the R mitotype had a 2.7 times higher relative percentage composition of Z7-12:OAc compared to the C mitotype moth, while the C mitotype moth had a 2.4 times higher relative percentage composition of Z11-16:OAc than the R mitotype moth. Male moths of both mitotypes exhibited similar responses to the pheromone compounds, showing the strongest responses to Z9-14:OAc and Z7-12:OAc in electrophysiological and behavioural assays. There was mating between R and C mitotypes with egg production comparable to mating within the same mitotype. Our results revealed that differences between the two S. frugiperda mitotypes are characterized by female moth pheromone composition rather than male moth responses to the pheromones, and that this does not prevent hybridisation between the mitotypes, which may have implications for their management.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2024, Volume: 14, number: 1, article number: 3848