Maize Tolerance to Natural and Artificial Infestation with Diabrotica virgifera virgifera Eggs
Western corn rootworm – WCR (Diabrotica virgifera sp.virgifera, Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae) is economically the most important pest of maize worldwide. WCR natural population is already very abundant on Serbian fields, and keeps increasing each year. Tolerance is recognized by larger root size and bigger root regrowth. Severe larval injuries cause lack of compensatory regrowth and lead to reduction of plant growth and yield. The aim of this research was to evaluate tolerance of commercial Serbian maize hybrid NS 640, under natural WCR infestation and under conditions of artificial infestation, and to obtain the information about its tolerance to WCR larval feeding in two consecutive years. Field experiments were conducted in 2015 and 2016, in Bečej (Vojvodina province, Serbia). In experimental field, 96 plants were selected, marked and arranged in 48 pairs. Each pair represented two plants. The first plant was artificially infested with 4 mL WCR egg suspension in agar (550 eggs plant-1) in the root zone (D plant). The second plant represented control plant (C plant) with injection of 4 mL distilled water in root zone. The experimental field was inspected weekly. A hybrid tolerance was assessed based on root injury level and root mass. Root injury was rated using the Node-Injury Scale 1-6, during the last field inspection (September – October). Comparing the root injuries on D and C plants in 2015, more severe damages were recorded on D plants (12 plants - rate 5 and 17 plants - rate 6) compared to C plants (2 plants - rate 5 and 8 plants - rate 6). Also, the highest number of plants with healthy roots (rate 1), was registered in the control (25 plants), while only 4 D plants were rated as injury level 1. In 2016, root injuries caused by WCR larvae on D and C plants did not differ significantly. The reason is the difference in climatic conditions between the years. The 2015 was extremely dry and more suitable for WCR larval development and movement in the soil, compared to 2016. Thus, more severe damages appeared on artificially infested plants (D plants). Root mass was in strong correlation with the level of root injury, but did not differ significantly between D and C plants, in both years.