Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pest control breakthrough - from a spider’s stomach

15.12.2003


UK Team is first to use DNA-based techniques to analyse content of spiders’ guts to identify prey



DNA found in a spider’s stomach could herald a breakthrough in the fight against farm pests, which cause millions of dollars of damage to crops.

Cardiff University, UK, scientists, led by Dr Bill Symondson in the School of Biosciences, have become the first to use DNA-based techniques to analyse the content of spiders’ guts to identify the prey they have eaten in the field.


Money spiders – or Linyphiidae - are a vital controller of pest numbers on farms because their prey includes aphids. However, aphids have poor nutritional value and are sometimes toxic, so the spiders need to balance their diet with other prey.

In a field experiment, the Cardiff team’s analysis showed that the money spiders were eating large numbers of small insects called springtails or Collembola. Stomach contents showed that they were eating several different species of Collembola, but with strong preferences – DNA from a species, which was uncommon at the site where they were collected, proved to be present most frequently in the stomachs of the spiders.

"The DNA analysis enables us to identify precisely what the spiders have eaten," said Dr Symondson. "If we compare that with the prey populations in the field, we can see which prey the spiders prefer to eat when they have a choice."

"If we can encourage this prey insect in greater numbers, it should boost the population of spiders and therefore provide better control of aphids," said Dr Symondson.

Spiders, and in particular money spiders, are extremely important in the control of pests in arable crops, and their webs often cover more than 50% of the fields they inhabit.

However, the team is also using the techniques they have developed to analyse other important predators, such as the ground beetle, whose prey include slugs – the most damaging of crop pests in Europe.

"Many people are surprised at how important such natural predators are in the control of pests," said Dr Symondson. "Even on a conventional farm, which uses chemical pesticides, most pests are controlled by predators most of the time.

"Regulations are placing increasing limitations on the use of chemicals, so encouraging natural predators is going to become even more important."

Dr. Bill Symondson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
18.09.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Ultrasound sensors make forage harvesters more reliable
28.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The fastest light-driven current source

Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.

Graphene is up to the job

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Goodbye, login. Hello, heart scan

26.09.2017 | Information Technology

The material that obscures supermassive black holes

26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Ageless ears? Elderly barn owls do not become hard of hearing

26.09.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>