, Volume 85, Issue 4, pp 409-412
Date: 11 Aug 2012

First evidence of deuterotokous parthenogenesis in the tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae)

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The tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), originates from South America and is now considered to be one of the most damaging invasive pests of tomatoes in the Mediterranean Basin countries of Europe and North Africa. The preventing pest mating control methods include: (1) the use of synthetic pheromones for male attraction and annihilation inside insecticide-containing traps; (2) mating disruption by saturating the atmosphere with sex pheromones which alter the ability of males to locate females; and (3) massive applications of sterile males to alter the overall reproductive success of the pest population. However, all these methods achieve only a poor success rate in controlling T. absoluta populations under greenhouse conditions. Sex pheromone management and sterile insect techniques are both based on an important biological trait: the insect must breed through sexual reproduction. Here, we report for the first time laboratory evidence of deuterotokous parthenogenesis, an asexual reproduction where both males and females are produced from unfertilized eggs. We discuss the consequences for T. absoluta control strategies.