Flying with a 'death sentence' on board : electrophoretic detection of braconid parasitoid larvae in migrating winged grain aphids, Sitobion avenae (F.)
Allen Williams, Leslie
Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of enzymes (carboxylesterases) was used for the first time to monitor rates of parasitism in airborne alate (winged) grain aphid, Sitobion avenae (F.) population samples collected by suction trapping in Hertfordshire, UK. Using previously described electrophoretic 'keys', the species of hymenopterous parasitoids present in individual aphids were identified and found to be Aphidius ervi (Haliday) and/or Aphidius rhopalosiphi (De Stephani Perez) (Braconidae). Entomophthoralean fungal infection was also detected using this approach. Aphidiid wasp parasitism was detected from early June to mid-August and fungal infection from late June to late July. The results are discussed in relation to parasitoid population structure and dynamics, especially (i) the fact that winged aphids passively transport the early stages of their braconid parasitoids and fungal pathogens, potentially to newly-founded colonies, which may directly impact on the dual aphid-parasitoid populations genetics; and (ii) the approach used to collect and assay parasitised and fungal infected aphids involving both suction trapping and electrophoretic testing may have potential in assessing the level and efficacy of these biological control agents in integrated pest management (IPM) schemes to combat cereal aphid outbreaks.