A novel approach using microsporidia to estimate the flight route of the common cutworm, Spodoptera litura (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

  • Yuji Imura
  • Yoshinori HatakeyamaEmail author
  • Moe Takahashi
  • Takashi Ohbayashi
  • Shinji Mizobe
  • Hidetoshi Iwano
Original Research Paper


Microsporidia are unique fungi that exist as obligate intracellular parasites. Approximately 40% of the known microsporidian strains infect various insects. Due to their high host specificity, microsporidia have potential use as powerful biological pesticides. Here, we analyzed microsporidian strains isolated from the common cutworm, Spodoptera litura Fabricius (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) of Japan and Taiwan, which is considered a pest insect. Two experiments were performed: a comparison of spore size and a phylogenetic analysis using small subunit ribosomal RNA gene sequencing. We then estimated the flight routes of S. litura by using the phylogenetic relationships of the isolated microsporidian strains as a marker. An analysis of spore size indicated that the test strains comprised three groups: Pleistophora, Nosema or Vairimorpha, and Trachipleistophora or Vavraia. The results of the phylogenetic analysis suggested a classification into five genera, including Vavraia. The genus Vavraia was first detected from lepidopteran insects in Japan. We estimated the sources and flight routes of S. litura using phylogenetic data for the genera Nosema and Trachipleistophora. In this study, we used microsporidia as a novel marker to estimate sources and flight routes of S. litura from Ogasawara and Southern China to mainland Japan, demonstrating the usefulness of this approach.


Microsporidia Flight route Spodoptera litura SSU rRNA gene sequence Phylogenetic analysis 



We are grateful to Naoki KURIMOTO, and Masahiro UCHIKADO of College of Bioresource Sciences, Nihon University, Hiroshi YOKOYAMA of Ikari Shodoku Co., Ltd., and Masaru HOJO of National Institute for Basic Biology for collecting and providing the S. litura. This study was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid from the Nihon University College of Bioresource Sciences Research Fund for 2016–2018.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Applied Entomology and Zoology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Applied Entomology, Department of Agricultural Bioscience, College of Bioresource SciencesNihon UniversityFujisawaJapan
  2. 2.Tokyo Metropolitan Agriculture and Forestry Research CenterTachikawaJapan
  3. 3.Yamaguchi Prefectural Agriculture and Forestry General Technology CenterYamaguchiJapan

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