Interactions among the predatory midge Aphidoletes aphidimyza (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae), the fungal pathogen Metarhizium brunneum (Ascomycota: Hypocreales), and maize-infesting aphids in greenhouse mesocosms

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The generalist entomopathogenic fungus, Metarhizium brunneum, has proved to have great potential as a versatile biological pest control agent. The gall midge Aphidoletes aphidimyza is a specialist predator that occurs naturally in Europe and has been successfully used for aphid suppression. However, the interaction between these two biological control organisms and how it may affect the biological control of aphids awaits further investigation. As part of the EU-supported project INBIOSOIL, this study was conducted in greenhouse conditions to assess the possible effects of combining both biological control agents. In a randomized complete block design, sweet corn (Zea mays var. saccharata) plants were grown in large pots filled with natural soil or natural soil inoculated with M. brunneum. At the third leaf stage, before being individually caged, plants were infested with Rhopalosiphum padi and A. aphidimyza pupae were introduced in the soil. Aphidoletes aphidimyza midge emergence, number of living midges and number of aphids were recorded daily. The presence of conidia in the soil and on leaves was assessed during the experiment. At the conclusion of the experiment, the number of live aphids and their developmental stage, consumed aphids, and A. aphidimyza eggs was assessed under stereomicroscope. This study’s findings showed that the presence of M. brunneum did not affect A. aphidimyza midge emergence. However, longevity was significantly affected. As the study progressed, significantly fewer predatory midges were found in cages treated with M. brunneum compared to untreated cages. Furthermore, by the end of the study, the number of predatory midges found in the Metarhizium-treated cages was four times lower than in the untreated cages. Both daily and final count of aphids were significantly affected by treatment. Aphidoletes aphidimyza applied alone suppressed the aphid population more effectively than M. brunneum applied alone. Additionally, the aphid population was most suppressed when both agents were combined, though the suppression was less than additive.
Translated title of the contributionSamspil mellem rovgalmyggen Aphidoletes aphidimyza (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae), den insektpatogene svamp Metarhizium brunneum (Ascomycota: Hypocreales), og bladlus på majs i væksthus mesocosms
Original languageEnglish
Article number44
Issue number2
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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