SBE Grad Student Advances Research on Potato Pest

Jie ChenSBE graduate student Jie Chen came to the University of Maine from China in 2010 in order to further her studies while experiencing a different educational system and way of living. She started her masters program in Entomology under her advisor Dr. Andrei Alyokhin, who helped tremendously in her transition to Maine. Chen says “I am grateful for Andrei because he is meticulous about research, understanding and always glad to help,” Chen was not fluent in English when she arrived, and it was professors like Alyokhin, Eleanor Groden and Frank Drummond, among others who offered support and guidance for Chen.

Chen is studying the Colorado potato beetle, which is a major pest of potato plants. She is interested in testing the variation in life history parameters. During her current study, beetles were collected from several locations including Maine, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia. She counted the number of eggs and larvae, recorded the days of development and several other parameters. The data were analyzed to test the differences among strains. Some of the strains were insecticide resistant while others were susceptible. From the results, the variation did not correlate much with insecticide susceptibility. She found that geographical isolation could better explain for the variation. Chen’s recorded parameters will be used to calculate the intrinsic rate of population growth in order to build up a model for prediction of the future beetle populations.

Chen is also interested in the temperature effects on the beetle. In a future study, she would like to record the lethal time at a temperature extreme and try to extract the heat shock protein.

After Chen completes her master program in Entomology, she is considering a career in the pest control industry.