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Comparison of performance on different host plants between the B biotype and a non-B biotype of Bemisia tabaci from Zhejiang, China


*Correspondence: Shu-Sheng Liu, Institute of Insect Science, Zhejiang University, 268 Kaixuan Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310029, China. E-mail:


The capacity of the B biotype of the whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae), to invade has often been linked to its presumably wider host range than the non-B indigenous biotypes. However, there are few experimental studies of the relative performance of the B biotype and non-B biotypes on different host-plant species. Here, we compared the performance of the B biotype and an indigenous non-B biotype (China-ZHJ-1) of B. tabaci from Zhejiang, China on five commonly cultivated host plants, each from a different family: cotton, tobacco, cabbage, squash, and kidney bean. We also examined the effect of rearing host plants on the performance of the B biotype. Overall, the performance of the B biotype on the five species of plants was much better than that of the indigenous non-B population. On tobacco, cabbage, and kidney bean, no individuals of ZHJ-1 completed development to adulthood, whereas the B biotype developed successfully from egg to adult on all three plants. On squash, the B biotype survived better, developed to adulthood earlier and had a higher fecundity than ZHJ-1. The two biotypes performed more equally on cotton, but even on this plant the B biotype female adults lived nearly twice as long as that of ZHJ-1 and may have realized a higher life-time fecundity. The B biotype also showed a substantial capacity to acclimatize to alternative host plants for improved survival and reproduction, on both highly suitable and marginally suitable host plants. We conclude that the host range of the B biotype of B. tabaci may be much wider than those of some indigenous biotypes, and this advantage of the B biotype over the non-B biotypes may assist in its invasion and displacement of some indigenous biotypes in the field.