Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Phthorimaea operculella granulovirus (PhopGV) belongs to the genus Betabaculovirus of the arthropod-infecting Baculoviridae. PhopGV is able to infect several gelechiid species. Among them are the potato tuber moths Phthorimaea operculella Zeller and Tecia solanivora Povolny (both Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). In various South American countries, PhopGV-based biopesticides are used to control either P. operculella or T. solanivora. Many trials have indicated that a particular viral isolate can exhibit very distinct pathogenicity when infecting different host species or different populations of one host species. In this study, we compared hostpathogen interactions using various PhopGV isolates and various populations of P. operculella and T. solanivora. Virus isolates from P. operculella were more pathogenic against their original host species than against T. solanivora. A PhopGV isolated from T. solanivora was less efficient against P. operculella. In addition, virus isolates differed in pathogenicity toward their hosts (i.e., lethal concentrations of isolates ranged from low to high). Unexpectedly, we also found that host populations of one species from distinct geographic origins did not differ significantly in susceptibility to the same PhopGV isolate. This was the case for both host species and for five PhopGV isolates. Comparative restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analyses of 11 isolates including those used in bio-assays indicated three main regions of variation in the genome of PhopGV, corresponding to the regions of open reading frame PhopGV046, gene PhopGV129 (egt), and repeat 9 (located between open reading frames PhopGV083 and PhopGV084). Comparison of the nucleotide sequences of the insertions/deletions present in these regions were carried out for the most variable isolate, JLZ9f. The results are discussed in the context of the production and use of PhopGV as a biological agent against these two pest species.