Levels of pyridine alkaloids were measured in 18 tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum L., entries from three parental isolines (‘NC 95’, ‘SC 58’, and ‘Coker 139’), grown at Tifton, GA, Florence, SC, and Oxford, NC, in 1991. Levels of alkaloids in bud leaves (first fully unfolded leaf below the apical leaf bud) were negatively correlated to natural infestation ratings of tobacco budworm larvae, Heliothis virescens (F.), 7 wk after transplanting. For artificially infested bud leaves at Oxford, there was a significant negative correlation between levels of total alkaloids and larval weights after 1 wk of feeding. In 1992, four entries from the ‘NC 95’ isoline were grown at Oxford, and samples for alkaloid analyses were taken every 2 wk at several leaf positions on each plant. During weeks 4, 8, 12, and 16, second instar tobacco budworms were caged on individual, intact leaves inside perforated plastic bags in the field. The survival and development of tobacco budworm larvae after 1 wk were negatively correlated with levels of alkaloids at the various leaf positions. Larvae survived better and grew faster on the bud leaves of each entry where alkaloid levels were lower than they did on leaves further down the stalk where alkaloid levels were higher. More larvae survived on the lower leaves of the low alkaloid lines than on the lower leaves of the high alkaloid lines. Even moderate increases in pyridine alkaloids had negative effects on tobacco budworm survival and development. Nicotine constituted >97% of the pyridine alkaloids in the ‘NC95’ isoline each year.

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