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
How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH
A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology