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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Kearneysville, West Virginia » Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory » Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement, and Protection » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #385962

Research Project: Integrated Production and Automation Systems for Temperate Fruit Crops

Location: Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement, and Protection

Title: Behavioral effects and retention of protein immunomarkers on plum curculio Conotrachelus nenuphar (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)

item LAMPASONA, TIMOTHY - Rutgers University
item ACEBES-DORIA, ANGEL - University Of Georgia
item Leskey, Tracy
item NIELSEN, ANNE - Rutgers University

Submitted to: Journal of Insect Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/5/2021
Publication Date: 11/6/2021
Citation: Lampasona, T., Acebes-Doria, A., Leskey, T.C., Nielsen, A.L. 2021. Behavioral effects and retention of protein immunomarkers on plum curculio Conotrachelus nenuphar (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Journal of Insect Science. 21(6). Article 11.

Interpretive Summary: Tracking insect dispersal under field conditions is important to understanding movement patterns from wild host habitat into cultivated crops. Here, we evaluated in marking plum curculio, a key pest of tree fruit, with several immunoproteins affecting their movement. These included cow’s milk and egg whites. We also evaluated how long plum curculio retain these immunoprotein marks. We found that movement was unaffected by the presence of the marking and that marks could be retained by up to half the individuals seven days later. Our results indicate that protein immunomarking is a suitable method for mark-release-recapture experiments with plum curculio.

Technical Abstract: Protein immunomarking can be used to track the dispersal of insects in the field or identify plant-insect interactions. By marking insects with known proteins and recapturing them, their movement or host use can be quantified with Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). Before using this technique, retention and behavioral effects of these markers should be evaluated to ensure that the insect’s natural behaviors are conserved. Here, we tested the effects of protein markers on the plum curculio, Conotrachelus nenuphar (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). This weevil is native to North America and a pest of tree fruit and blueberry in the United States and causes damage resulting in near complete crop loss if left untreated. The use of protein immunomarking will allow studies that will lead to behaviorally-based management tactics. We tested the effects of marking adult C. nenuphar with two inexpensive food-based immunoprotein markers, bovine casein (cow’s milk) and chicken albumin (egg whites) on climbing distance (total cm), horizontal movement (total cm), and horizontal speed (cm/sec), as well as retention time of protein immunomarkers. Neither protein immunomarker affected C. nenuphar movement or climbing, although, females climbed significantly greater distances than males. ELISA assays detected 37.5 - 56.2% of milk protein and 56.2 - 59.3% of egg on the insect seven days after application depending on contact method. Our findings indicate that food-based protein immunomarkers can be used in future studies to test C. nenuphar movement within host plants without impacting behavior.