Comparative Genomics in European Corn Borer Moths: The Genetic Consequences of Intercross Progeny Production in an Introduced Species

EPA Grant Number: U915895
Title: Comparative Genomics in European Corn Borer Moths: The Genetic Consequences of Intercross Progeny Production in an Introduced Species
Investigators: Dopman, Erik B.
Institution: Cornell University
EPA Project Officer: Klieforth, Barbara I
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through January 1, 2004
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Molecular Biology/Genetics , Academic Fellowships , Biology/Life Sciences


The objective of this research project is to use comparative genomic techniques to study the genetics of traits that cause reproductive isolation, or speciation, in animals.


This research project will give priority to species with incomplete reproductive isolation because these organisms, along with their unique attributes, face extinction or loss through excessive hybridization. The increase in the frequency of species translocation and introduction resulting from human activity will cause this mode of extinction to become more problematic in the future. In addition, the use of hybrids or intercross progeny as a tool for endangered species recovery (Draft Policy 61 FR 4710) warrants comprehensive research on the genetic determinants of reproductive incompatibilities between incipient forms that possess traits of interest. I will use two incipient species or races of the European corn borer (ECB) moth as a model system to study the genetics of incomplete reproductive isolation. Races of this introduced pest exhibit a largely nonoverlapping distribution in Europe, but introduced populations in North America are broadly overlapping. When co-occurring, races occasionally hybridize and produce intercross progeny because of incomplete specificity of a chemical communication system. Races differ in the pheromone blend produced by females to attract mates, and in the behavioral response to alternative pheromone blends by males. Races also differ in developmental time, which temporally displaces sexually mature moths. Previous research on the ECB indicates that single major genes contribute to each of these traits.

I will create a genetic linkage map in the ECB and use it as a framework for mapping the genes that determine reproductive isolation. I then will use molecular markers from this map to study the genetic consequences of intercross progeny production in natural moth populations in both North America and Europe. Once a linkage map has been created, other genes of interest can be located in the genome of the ECB and in closely related species. The gene determining Bt-resistance will be a likely candidate. A well-characterized genetic map will facilitate marker-assisted selection of the traits of interest (such as Bt susceptibility).

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, European corn borer, ECB, moths, comparative genomics, linkage map.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001
  • 2002
  • Final