Assessing arthropod predation on parasitized hosts by molecular approaches (EU Marie-Curie Fellowship)

M. Traugott & W.O.C. Symondson

Insect natural enemies play a key role for pest control in sustainable farming systems. However, relatively little is understood regarding the trophic relationships within the natural enemy community and their effect on the level of biological control.

Within this Marie-Curie Fellowship this lack of knowledge is directly addressed: we will identify and quantify arthropod predation on parasitized hosts by using, for the first time, DNA-based methods. This approach allows identifying trophic interactions under undisturbed field conditions. The herbivore-parasitoid-predator system under study comprises cereal aphids, their hymenopteran primary and secondary parasitoids, and invertebrate predators. The latter prey on aphids but also might indirectly feed on parasitoids when consuming parasitized aphids. Both parasitism rates within the aphid population and the trophic links between predators and their aphid and parasitoid prey will be identified and quantified by using DNA-based techniques. The outcomes of this project will provide an important proof of concept for further research looking at the effects of predator-parasitoid interactions on natural pest control.


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