Gustatory response and longevity in Aphidius parasitoids and their hyperparasitoid Dendrocerus aphidum
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Aphid parasitoids are commonly used in the biological control of aphids. However, their success in biological control largely depends on the availability of carbohydrate-rich food as an energy source for maintenance and reproduction. Therefore, as these resources have become rare in modern agricultural systems, external sugar sources like flowering plants or artificial sugar solutions are more and more used to provide the biocontrol agents with the necessary sugars. When developing such artificial food sources, it is essential to carefully select the sugars that best support the target parasitoids without benefiting non-target insects, such as pest insects or hyperparasitoids. Here, we investigated the gustatory response and longevity of two commonly used aphid parasitoids (Aphidius colemani and Aphidius matricariae) and their hyperparasitoid Dendrocerus aphidum when provided with one of eight plant- and/or insect-derived sugars (fructose, galactose, glucose, melibiose, melezitose, rhamnose, sucrose and trehalose). Our results showed that the studied insect species consumed the largest amounts of sugars that are most commonly found in honeydew (sucrose, fructose, glucose and melezitose) and also survived best when feeding on these sugars. Both Aphidius spp. survived well on melibiose, whereas D. aphidum performed poorly on this sugar. When melibiose was offered in a mixture with glucose, a significant reduction in longevity was observed for D. aphidum when compared to glucose only, while this was less pronounced for Aphidius spp. This knowledge can be exploited in tailoring food sources to selectively support Aphidius parasitoids, enhancing the biological control of aphids.
KeywordsAphidius Capillary feeder assay Dendrocerus aphidum Longevity Sugar consumption
We are grateful to the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research (FWO) for supporting this research. Additionally, we would like to thank all PME & BIM colleagues who helped during the course of the experiments.
This work was supported by the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research (FWO) (TG is a SB PhD fellow at FWO (project 1S15116316 N)).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
This article does not contain studies with humans participants performed by any of the authors.
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