Moth Chooses Unusual New Host in Northern Iran, May Benefit Weed Control in Rice Fields

A team of Iranian researchers from the Rice Research Institute of Iran have discovered that Gynnodomorpha permixtana, a well-known moth species from Europe and Asia, has changed its host preferences in order to adjust to Iran's northern region environmental conditions. The importance of this adaptation for biological control of problematic weeds in rice fields and the biology of the moth on a new host plant have been described in the September 8, 2014 issue of the open-access journal Nota Lepidopterologica. The larvae of G. permixtana have so far been reported to feed on the seeds and flowers of plant species such as water-plantain, eyebright, lousewort, bitter root, and European yellow-rattle, which are weeds commonly present across Europe and Asia. A new study of the populations in northern Iran, however, has revealed a new host, Sagittaria trifolia, commonly known as “arrowhead.” This new discovery suggests that climatic and environmental conditions in northern regions of Iran resulted in the choice of a new host plant, and provides an exciting insight into how adaptation mechanisms work. Arrowheads are groups of problematic perennial broadleaf weeds that thrive in rice fields and waterways. Favorable climatic conditions after rice harvesting result in continued activity and thriving populations throughout the year. The economic importance of this weed has prompted researchers from the Rice Research Institute of Iran to seek possible solutions for the management of arrowhead. Their studies have revealed that the larvae of a certain moth species feeding on the fruits and seeds of the problematic weed, can lead to a dramatic decrease of its germination potential. After this discovery, the moth was sent for identification to Dr.
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