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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 77 No. 5, p. 769-774
    Received: Jan 2, 1985

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Root Damage by Western Corn Rootworm and Nutrient Content in Maize1

  1. A. L. Kahler,
  2. A. E Olness,
  3. G. R. Sutter,
  4. C. D. Dybing and
  5. O. J. Devine2



Little is known about the effects of root pruning by insects on nutrient content of maize (Zea mays L.). The objective of this study was to evaluate root damage effects caused by western corn rootworm (WCR, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte) larval feeding on Fe, Na, K, Ca, Mg, and N contents in shoots and seeds of maize hybrid ‘Pioneer 3978’. The experimental design was a randomized complete block, and treatments included applications of 0, 1000, 2000,4000, and 8,000 WCR eggs per lineal meter of row in 1982 and 0,4000, and 12 000 WCR eggs per lineal meter of row in 1983. Maize seeds were planted ca. 23 cm apart in Brookings sic1 (pachic Udic Haploborolls) soil. Aboveground plant samples were collected before intense larval feeding and after adult beetle emergence. These shoot samples and grain harvested at maturity were weighed and analyzed for their nutrient content. Severe root pruning decreased shoot dry weight and reduced grain yields at harvest by 13.5% in 1982 and by 9.7% in 1983. Contents of K, Mg, and Ca decreased and Fe and Na contents increased in shoots in 1982, but were not affected by root pruning in 1983. Accumulation of Na and Fe in shoots was attributed to compensatory branch root growth at critical stages of plant development. Root pruning may have caused new root development or branching into parts of the soil where Fe and Na could be obtained. Grain yield and grain Na content were related directly to the amount of root pruning in 1982. In 1983, grain yield was reduced and element content was altered by root pruning, but not in a simple linear manner. The results suggested that further studies of root pruning by WCR larvae of additional hybrids and their inbred parents may aid identification of elemental functions for maize.

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