$499,000 for a three-year project funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture titled “An integrative approach to determining fall armyworm population genomics and dispersal”
Greg Sword, Ph.D., Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Entomology professor, has received $499,000 to determine fall armyworm behaviors and genomic traits that could aid in controlling the agricultural pests.
The research sprung from studies by Texas A&M University graduate student Ashley Tessnow, who will work on the new project as a postdoctoral researcher. Her doctoral research tracked the genetics of fall armyworm populations as they moved south to north through Texas into a location in Minnesota.
Tessnow studied two distinct strains of fall armyworms as they migrated northward annually during their preferred crops’ growing seasons. These strains of fall armyworms are the same species and morphologically identical, but they prefer different crops. The new research will look at the C-strain, named for its prevalence in corn fields, and the R-strain, named for its identification in rice fields but also known for consuming small grasses like Bermuda.