Does hybridization among tamarisk beetles change the risk of non-target attack in the field? Clark et al. study the consequences of hybridization in tamarisk beetles (Diorhabda). They paired laboratory phenotyping with genomics to assess changes in risk of non-target attack and body size and fecundity. Body size and early fecundity were similar in pure and hybrid females, indicating that hybridization is not detrimental to insect fitness or the biocontrol program and may provide variation that allows populations to become locally adapted. Host use of hybrids was very similar to that of pure species, although some hybrid individuals had increased preference for Frankenia salina, a native non-target species. Overall, hybridization has likely not been detrimental to the efficacy and safety of the Diorhabda biocontrol program, but possible impacts on F. salina should be monitored, considering ongoing hybridization and evolution in the field.
Clark, E.I., Stahlke, A.R., Gaskin, J.F., Bean, D.W., Hohenlohe, P.A., Hufbauer, R.A. and Bitume, E.V., 2022. Biological Control, p.105102. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2022.105102