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Amplicon Sequencing of Plant Material Links Cotton Fleahopper to Host Plants
Lindsey C. Perkin, Kristin L. Hamons, Charles P.-C. Suh, and Gregory A. Sword
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The cotton fleahopper (CFH), Pseudatomoscelis seriatus (Reuter), is an early season cotton pest that feeds on cotton terminals resulting in flower abortion, irregular plant growth, and delayed plant maturity. The CFH has been documented on over 160 host plants across 35 families. Identification of host plants was accomplished through observed presence on a plant in the field and/or controlled feeding studies under lab conditions. Because the CFH is a generalist, these results may not accurately represent the plants used by the CFH under natural conditions. We used amplicon sequencing to identify plant material potentially ingested by CFH nymphs. Control samples consisted of CFHs fed in the laboratory on horsemint, Monarda spp. Nymphs were also collected using a sweep net from fields dense with horsemint, croton (Croton spp.), or fields of mixed plant composition. We detected the correct plant family in control samples. BLAST (https://blast.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Blast.cgi) results from the sweep net samples categorized hits into seven different plant families, one of which may be a new feeding host for CFH. Based on these findings, amplicon sequencing may be useful to further understand the complex ecology of the CFH, which may ultimately improve management strategies for CFH.