Bulletin of Entomological Research

Research Paper

Molecular markers to discriminate among four pest species of Helicoverpa (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

G.T. Beherea1 c1, W.T. Taya1 p1, D.A. Russella1a2 and P. Batterhama1

a1 Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research, Department of Genetics, Bio-21, Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute, The University of Melbourne, Parkville-3010, Australia

a2 Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Chatham Maritime, Kent, ME4 4TB, UK


The four significant pest species in the Helicoverpa genus (H. armigera, H. assulta, H. punctigera and H. zea) are morphologically similar and can only be reliably distinguished through dissection of adult genitalia. Two partial regions of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), the cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) and the cytochrome b (Cyt b) genes were amplified by PCR and digested with restriction endonucleases. The restriction patterns, generated by the endonucleases BstZ17I and HphI, demonstrated reliable differentiation of the four Helicoverpa pest species. This technique is fast, reliable and effective at distinguishing specimens irrespective of their life stages and offers support to conventional taxonomic differentiation based on morphological characters.

(Accepted January 27 2008)

(Online publication July 17 2008)


c1 Author for correspondence Fax: +61 (3)93475352 E-mail: g.behere@pgrad.unimelb.edu.au

p1 Current address: CSIRO Entomology, Black Mountain Laboratories, Clunies Ross Street, Black Mountain, ACT 2601, Australia.