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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Newark, Delaware » Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #341751

Research Project: Host Specificity and Systematics of Insect Biological Control Agents

Location: Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit

Title: Intraspecific variation in facultative symbiont infection among native and exotic pest populations: potential implications for biological control

Author
item Desneux, Nicolas - Inland Northwest Research Alliance, Inra
item Monticelli, Lucie - Inland Northwest Research Alliance, Inra
item Luo, Chen - Inland Northwest Research Alliance, Inra
item Asplen, Mark - Metropolitan State University
item Brady, Cristina - University Of Kentucky
item Heimpel, George - University Of Kentucky
item Hopper, Keith
item Oliver, Kerry - University Of Georgia
item White, Jennifer - University Of Kentucky

Submitted to: Biological Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/26/2017
Publication Date: 6/27/2017
Citation: Desneux, N., Monticelli, L., Luo, C., Asplen, M.K., Brady, C.M., Heimpel, G.E., Hopper, K.R., Oliver, K.M., White, J.A. 2017. Intraspecific variation in facultative symbiont infection among native and exotic pest populations: potential implications for biological control. Biological Control. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2017.1006.1007.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2017.1006.1007

Interpretive Summary: Aphids that are major crop pests often harbor bacteria inside their cells that can affect aphid traits, such as the ability to feed on a particular plant species or resistance to parasitic wasps. These bacteria are often found at lower frequencies in invasive aphid populations, suggesting that the diversity of symbiotic bacteria may be reduced by bottle-necks during invasion. We tested this hypothesis by collecting aphid species from their invaded and native regions and conducting diagnostic surveys for four bacteria: Hamiltonella defensa, Regiella insecticola, Serratia symbiotica, and Arsenophonus nasoniae. We did not see a reduction in bacterial diversity in the invasive aphids in our study, but when we included additional records from other published studies, we found moderate support for loss of bacterial diversity during invasions.

Technical Abstract: Facultative bacterial symbionts can provide their host insects with protection from natural enemies. These symbionts are often found at low to intermediate frequencies in their native host populations, suggesting that symbiont diversity (and the corresponding suite of defensive properties) may be lower in exotic populations due to founder effects and drift in newly established populations. We tested this hypothesis by collecting aphid species from their exotic and native regions, and conducting diagnostic surveys for four facultative symbionts: Hamiltonella defensa, Regiella insecticola, Serratia symbiotica, and Arsenophonus nasoniae. We did not find a reduction in symbiont diversity in exotic host populations, but did find substantial intra- and interpopulation variation in symbiont infection. When we incorporated additional records from the literature, we found moderate support for the hypothesis, although few aphid species were sampled sufficiently to be conclusive. Finally, we tested whether laboratory colonies are prone to losing symbiont infection over time. We established four colonies of the cowpea aphid, Aphis craccivora, each initiated with a single aphid clone infected with H. defensa. Through repeated sampling, we found that all four colonies became uninfected over the course of one year. We suggest that symbiont surveys could aid importation biological control introductions by (1) establishing whether recently established exotic pest populations might have reduced symbiont complements and be particularly vulnerable to natural enemies, (2) providing clues on pest provenance, and (3) determining which native pest populations include the same defensive symbionts as the exotic target populations, as these may be the best sources for prospective agents. We also suggest that laboratory cultures of target and nontarget organisms be routinely monitored for symbiont composition, to ensure that laboratory trials produce field-relevant results.