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Pathogen avoidance by insect predators

Meyling, Nicolai V.; Ormond, Emma; Roy, Helen E. and Pell, Judith K. (2008) Pathogen avoidance by insect predators. Poster at: Biannual workshop of Multitrophic Interactions, Göttingen, Germany, University of Göttingen, Germany, 6-7 March 2008. [Unpublished]

[thumbnail of 14151.pdf] PDF - English


Insects can detect cues related to the risk of attack by their natural enemies. Pathogens are among the natural enemies of insects and entomopathogenic fungi attack a wide array of host species. Evidence documents that social insects in particular have adapted behavioural mechanisms to avoid infection by fungal pathogens. These mechanisms are referred to as 'behavioural resistance'. However, there is little evidence for similar adaptations in non-social insects.
We have conducted experiments to assess the potential of common insect predators to detect and avoid their entomopathogenic fungal natural enemy Beauveria bassiana. The predatory bug Anthocoris nemorum was able to detect and avoid nettle leaves that were treated with B. bassiana. Females laid fewer eggs on leaf halves contaminated with the pathogen. Similarly, females were very reluctant to contact nettle leaves contaminated with the fungus compared to uncontaminated control leaves in ‘no-choice’ experiments.
Adult seven spot ladybirds, Coccinella septempunctata, overwinter in the litter layer often in groups. Adult C. septempunctata modified their overwintering behaviour in relation to the presence of B. bassiana conidia in soil and sporulating conspecifics by moving away from sources of infection. Furthermore active (non-overwintering) adult C. septempunctata were also able to detect and avoid B. bassiana conidia on different substrates; bean leaves, soil and sporulating on dead conspecifics.
Our studies show that insect predators have evolved mechanisms to detect and avoid pathogens that they are susceptible to. Fungal pathogens may be significant mortality factors among populations of insect predators, especially long-lived species that must diapause before reproduction. Likewise, actively foraging species are more likely to come in contact with pathogens than predators that sit and wait for prey. These particular groups of insects will benefit from adaptations to avoid pathogens.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Poster
Keywords:Entomopathogenic fungi
Subjects: Environmental aspects > Biodiversity and ecosystem services
Research affiliation: UK
Denmark > KU - University of Copenhagen > KU-LIFE - Faculty of Life Sciences
Denmark > DARCOF III (2005-2010) > VEGQURE - Organic cropping Systems for Vegetable production
UK > Rothamsted Research (RES)
UK > Other organizations
Deposited By: Meyling, Nicolai V.
ID Code:14151
Deposited On:07 Sep 2008
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:37
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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