Haematophagy and cleptohaematophagy of clerada apicicornis (Hemiptera: lygaeidae), a potential biological control agent of rhodnius prolixus (Hemiptera: reduviidae).
Because of its ability to prey on Triatominae in rural houses, Clerada apicicornis has been suggested as a potential biological control agent of Rhodnius prolixus. It has also been suggested as a potential vector of mammalian trypanosomes such as Trypanosoma cruzi, because of its ability to take blood directly from mammals. To help resolve these conflicting ideas, we assessed the haematophagic behaviour of C. apicicornis by carrying out feeding trials on laboratory animals. Cleptohaematophagic behaviour was also assessed by allowing C. apicicornis to feed on R. prolixus previously engorged with avian blood. The low proportion of blood meals taken directly from laboratory animals indicates a facultative haematophagy in this species, whereas a greater proportion of nymphs and adults were able to obtain vertebrate blood by predation on engorged R. prolixus. The results suggest that C. apicicornis is unlikely to be effective as a biological control agent, but is also unlikely to have a significant role in the transmission of vertebrate pathogens. (+info)
Hot spots, indicator taxa, complementarity and optimal networks of taiga.
If hot spots for different taxa coincide, priority-setting surveys in a region could be carried out more cheaply by focusing on indicator taxa. Several previous studies show that hot spots of different taxa rarely coincide. However, in tropical areas indicator taxa may be used in selecting complementary networks to represent biodiversity as a whole. We studied beetles (Coleoptera), Heteroptera, polypores or bracket fungi (Polyporaceae) and vascular plants of old growth boreal taiga forests. Optimal networks for Heteroptera maximized the high overall species richness of beetles and vascular plants, but these networks were least favourable options for polypores. Polypores are an important group indicating the conservation value of old growth taiga forests. Random selection provided a better option. Thus, certain groups may function as good indicators for maximizing the overall species richness of some taxonomic groups, but all taxa should be examined separately. (+info)
Defensive function of herbivore-induced plant volatile emissions in nature.
Herbivore attack is known to increase the emission of volatiles, which attract predators to herbivore-damaged plants in the laboratory and agricultural systems. We quantified volatile emissions from Nicotiana attenuata plants growing in natural populations during attack by three species of leaf-feeding herbivores and mimicked the release of five commonly emitted volatiles individually. Three compounds (cis-3-hexen-1-ol, linalool, and cis-alpha-bergamotene) increased egg predation rates by a generalist predator; linalool and the complete blend decreased lepidopteran oviposition rates. As a consequence, a plant could reduce the number of herbivores by more than 90% by releasing volatiles. These results confirm that indirect defenses can operate in nature. (+info)
Fruit or aposematic insect? Context-dependent colour preferences in domestic chicks.
Colours are common stimuli in signalling systems. Requirements to function well as a signal sometimes conflict between different signallers, and the same colour stimulus is used to convey completely different messages to the same receiver. Fruits and aposematic insects both use red coloration as a signal, in the former case to signal profitability and in the latter case as a warning signal. In two experiments, we investigated whether the domestic chick, an omnivorous predator, differed in its unconditioned preference or avoidance of red and green stimuli depending on whether or not the stimulus was an insect. The experiments were designed as preference tests between red and green painted prey. The prey were live insects and artificial fruits (experiment 1), and, to investigate the effect of movement, live and dead insects (experiment 2). The chicks did not show any difference in pecking preference between red and green when fruit-like stimuli were used, but when the prey were insects, green prey were strongly preferred to red prey, and prey movement did not affect this bias. Thus, young chicks may recognize prey as insects and then discriminate between different prey colorations, or one type of food may elicit an unlearned colour preference-avoidance response that is absent with another type of food. (+info)
Capsule-transmitted gut symbiotic bacterium of the Japanese common plataspid stinkbug, Megacopta punctatissima.
The Japanese common plataspid stinkbug, Megacopta punctatissima, deposits small brown particles, or symbiont capsules, on the underside of the egg mass for the purpose of transmission of symbiotic bacteria to the offspring. We investigated the microbiological aspects of the bacteria contained in the capsule, such as microbial diversity, phylogenetic placement, localization in vivo, and fitness effects on the host insect. Restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of 16S ribosomal DNA clones revealed that a single bacterial species dominates the microbiota in the capsule. The bacterium was not detected in the eggs but in the capsules, which unequivocally demonstrated that the bacterium is transmitted to the offspring of the insect orally rather than transovarially, through probing of the capsule content. Molecular phylogenetic analysis showed that the bacterium belongs to the gamma-subdivision of the Proteobacteria. In adult insects the bacterium was localized in the posterior section of the midgut. Deprivation of the bacterium from the nymphs resulted in retarded development, arrested growth, abnormal body coloration, and other symptoms, suggesting that the bacterium is essential for normal development and growth of the host insect. (+info)
A gap junctionally transmitted epithelial cell signal regulates endocytic yolk uptake in Oncopeltus fasciatus.
For endocytic uptake of vitellogenins, developing oocytes of Oncopeltus require a soluble, diffusible molecular signal from their surrounding epithelial cells, and this signal must be transmitted through open gap junctions. Hormonal stimulation triggering synthesis and processing of vitellogenins into mature insect yolk spheres has been intensely studied, and follicle epithelial cells are known in several insects to contribute to the blood products which are endocytosed along with vitellogenins synthesized in the fat bodies. However, there has been little evidence that direct gap junctional communication is a requirement for endocytic activity by oocytes. In untreated control follicles, both electrical and dye coupling occur, and follicles incubated in vitro in physiological salt solution containing small amounts of blood and fluorescent dye produce fluorescently labeled nascent yolk spheres. Labeled yolk spheres were visible in both sectioned material, and, with (Laser) Confocal Scanning, in living material. Dye coupling was abolished by treatment with either 1 mM octanol, 0.5 mM ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS), or cytoplasmic acidification, with coupling coefficients also being affected as each of these gap junction antagonists down-regulated the connexons. With each of these treatments, after gap junctions were down-regulated, receptor-mediated endocytic uptake of blood-born vitellogenins came to a halt. Furthermore, Oncopeltus follicles with endocytic activity blocked in this manner could be rescued by microinjection of the soluble fraction of lysed epithelial cell cytoplasm, confirming that the process depended upon a molecular signal from the epithelial cells. (+info)
Predation potential of the water bugs Sphaerodema rusticum on the sewage snails Physa acuta.
The sewage snail Physa acuta is a serious threat to certain economic plants and to the purification plant of sewage works by rendering the biofilters ineffective. Various attempts are being made to control it. The efficacy of the predacious water bugs Sphaerodema rusticum was judged experimentally, in the laboratory in the potential control of P. acuta. It is revealed that, when supplied separately, the first, second and third instar and the adult S. rusticum did not attack P. acuta belonging to 3.1-8 mm, 5.1-8 mm, 7.1-8 mm and +info)
Antagonistic pre- and post-copulatory sexual selection on male body size in a water strider (Gerris lacustris).
A crucial question in sexual selection theory is whether post-copulatory sexual selection reinforces or counteracts conventional pre-copulatory sexual selection. Male body size is one of the traits most generally favoured by pre-copulatory sexual selection; and recent studies of sperm competition often suggest that large male size is also favoured by post-copulatory sexual selection. In contrast to this general pattern, this study shows that pre- and post-copulatory sexual selection act antagonistically on male body size in Gerris lacustris. One large and one small male were kept together with two females in this experiment. Large males had a significant mating advantage, but small males copulated longer and gained higher fertilization success from each mating. Large and small males, however, gained similar reproductive success, and there was no overall correlation between mating success and reproductive success. These results suggest that estimates of male fitness based solely on mating success should be viewed with caution, because of potentially counteracting post-copulatory selection. (+info)