Assessment of acute toxicity tests and rhizotron experiments to characterize lethal and sublethal control of soil-based pests

Annika Agatz, Mario M. Schumann, B. Wade French, Colin David Brown, Stefan Vidal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Characterizing lethal and sublethal control of soil-based pests with plant protection products is particularly challenging due to the complex and dynamic interplay of the system components. Here, we present two types of studies: acute toxcity experiments (homogenous exposure of individuals in soil) and rhizotron experiments (heterogeneous exposure of individuals in soil) to investigate their ability to strengthen our understanding of mechanisms driving the effectivness of the plant protection product. Experiments were conducted using larvae of the western corn rootworm Diabrotica virgifera LeConte and three pesticide active ingredients: clothianidin (neonicotinoid), chlorpyrifos (organophosphate) and tefluthrin (pyrethroid). RESULTS: The order of compound concentrations needed to invoke a specific effect intensity (EC 50 values) within the acute toxicity tests was chlorpyrifos > tefluthrin > clothianidin. This order changed for the rhizotron experiments because application type, fate and transport of the compounds in the soil profile, and sublethal effects on larvae also influence their effectiveness in controlling larval feeding on corn roots. CONCLUSION: Beyond the pure measurement of efficacy through observing relative changes in plant injury to control plants, the tests generate mechanistic understanding for drivers of efficacy apart from acute toxicity. The experiments have the potential to enhance efficacy testing and product development, and might be useful tools for assessing resistance development in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2450-2459
Number of pages10
JournalPest management science
Issue number11
Early online date24 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

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© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • chlorpyrifos
  • clothianidin
  • corn
  • efficacy
  • rootworm
  • tefluthrin

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