Detection and avoidance of an entomopathogenic fungus by a generalist insect predator

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Meyling, N. V. and Pell, J. K. 2006. Detection and avoidance of an entomopathogenic fungus by a generalist insect predator. Ecological Entomology. 31 (2), pp. 162-171.

AuthorsMeyling, N. V. and Pell, J. K.

1. Increasing evidence suggests that insects can assess their environment based on cues related to mortality risks to themselves or their offspring. Limited knowledge is available on such abilities in relation to entomopathogenic fungi, which can cause significant mortality in insect populations. In laboratory bioassays, the ability of the generalist predator Anthocoris nemorum L. (Heteroptera: Anthocoridae) to detect the presence of its natural enemy, the fungal pathogen Beauveria bassiana (Balsamo) Vuillemin (Ascomycota: Hypocreales) was investigated. 2. Behavioural observations were conducted on adults of A. nemorum foraging in choice and non-choice arenas treated with conidia suspensions of B. bassiana or just the carrier (control). The arenas consisted either of nettle leaves or soil. Additionally, behaviours in response to sporulating nettle aphid cadavers compared with uninfected aphids or paper balls were evaluated on nettle leaves. An oviposition experiment was also conducted in choice arenas on conidia-treated and untreated nettle leaves. 3. Males and females detected and avoided contact with leaf surfaces inoculated with B. bassiana. Females that were forced to enter fungus-treated leaf surfaces were very reluctant to do so. When females encountered cadavers sporulating with B. bassiana they rapidly withdrew compared with harmless paper ball dummies. Soil inoculated with B. bassiana did not affect A. nemorum behaviour or residence time compared with control soil. Females inserted significantly more eggs in control leaf areas compared with areas treated with B. bassiana conidia. 4. All results suggest that A. nemorum detects and avoids the pathogen B. bassiana when it forages on host plants with which it is adapted but not on soil surfaces. The adaptive significance of detection of entomopathogenic fungi is discussed.

Year of Publication2006
JournalEcological Entomology
Journal citation31 (2), pp. 162-171
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Funder project or code509

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