Once introduced for biological pest control, Asian lady beetle Harmonia axyridis populations have been increasing uncontrollably in the US and Europe since the turn of the millennium.
During spring and fall, mass occurrences of the Asian lady beetle can often be observed.
Andreas Vilcinskas, Justus Liebig University, Giessen
The species has been proliferating rapidly in Germany; conservationists fear that the Asian lady beetle will out-compete native beetle species. Scientists from the University of Giessen and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now found the reason why this animal is so successful.
Apart from a strongly antibiotic substance − a compound called harmonine − and antimicrobial peptides, its body fluid, the hemolymph, contains microsporidia. These tiny fungus-like protozoa parasitize body cells and can cause immense harm to their host. The Asian lady beetle is obviously resistant to these parasites in its own body. However, transferred to native species, microsporidia can be lethal. SCIENCE, May 17, 2013, DOI: 10.1126/science.1234032)
In most cases, such a neozoon species doesn’t survive or else its population density remains very low, because original and adapted life forms usually prevail in their ecological niche and win interspecific competitions. However, as soon as Harmonia axyridis is released into nature, it invades all habitats, especially those occupied by beetle species that feed on aphids. Within a very short period of time, native beetles are out-competed and the intruders have taken over. During the fall, major congregations of Asian lady beetles can be observed as swarms of insects search for hibernation places in houses or other sheltered areas.They are not only a nuisance, they can also cause serious allergic reactions in humans. When prey becomes scarce, Asian lady beetles may feed on grapes as a substitute diet and hence, they are often found on grape-vines in vineyards in the fall. Once in the mash, the defensive chemical substances in their hemolymph negatively affect the taste of wine.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1234032Schmidtberg, H., Röhrich, C., Vogel, H., Vilcinskas, A. (2013). A switch from constitutive chemical defense to inducible innate immune responses in the invasive ladybird Harmonia axyridis. Biology Letters 9: 20130006.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2013.0006Vilcinskas, A., Mukherjee, K., Vogel, H. (2013). Expansion of the antimicrobial peptide repertoire in the invasive ladybird Harmonia axyridis. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B - Biological Sciences. 280: 20122113.
Angela Overmeyer | Max-Planck-Institut
Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction