Pest control breakthrough – from a spider’s stomach

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.”

Media Contact

Dr. Bill Symondson EurekAlert!

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Agricultural and Forestry Science

Zurück zur Startseite

Kommentare (0)

Schreib Kommentar

Neueste Beiträge

Argonne targets lithium-rich materials as key to more sustainable cost-effective batteries

Next-generation batteries using lithium-rich materials could be more sustainable and cost-effective, according to a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory. The pivotal discovery,…

Why disordered light-harvesting systems produce ordered outcomes

Scientists typically prefer to work with ordered systems. However, a diverse team of physicists and biophysicists from the University of Groningen found that individual light-harvesting nanotubes with disordered molecular structures…

RadarGlass – from vehicle headlight to radar transceiver

As a result of modern Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, the use of radar technology has become indispensable for the automotive sector. With the installation of a large and growing number…

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close