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Insects 2017, 8(2), 44; doi:10.3390/insects8020044

Interactions among the Predatory Midge Aphidoletes aphidimyza (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae), the Fungal Pathogen Metarhizium brunneum (Ascomycota: Hypocreales), and Maize-Infesting Aphids in Greenhouse Mesocosms

Department of Plant and Environmental Science, University of Copenhagen, 1871 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Andrew G. S. Cuthbertson and Eric W. Riddick
Received: 16 November 2016 / Revised: 3 April 2017 / Accepted: 6 April 2017 / Published: 12 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Control of Invertebrate Pests)
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Abstract

The generalist entomopathogenic fungus, Metarhizium brunneum, has proved to have great potential as a versatile biological pest control agent. The gall midge Aphidoletes aphidimyza is a specialist predator that occurs naturally in Europe and has been successfully used for aphid suppression. However, the interaction between these two biological control organisms and how it may affect the biological control of aphids awaits further investigation. As part of the EU-supported project INBIOSOIL, this study was conducted in greenhouse conditions to assess the possible effects of combining both biological control agents. In a randomized complete block design, sweet corn (Zea mays var. saccharata) plants were grown in large pots filled with natural soil or natural soil inoculated with M. brunneum. At the third leaf stage, before being individually caged, plants were infested with Rhopalosiphum padi and A. aphidimyza pupae were introduced in the soil. Aphidoletes aphidimyza midge emergence, number of living midges and number of aphids were recorded daily. The presence of conidia in the soil and on leaves was assessed during the experiment. At the conclusion of the experiment, the number of live aphids and their developmental stage, consumed aphids, and A. aphidimyza eggs was assessed under stereomicroscope. This study’s findings showed that the presence of M. brunneum did not affect A. aphidimyza midge emergence. However, longevity was significantly affected. As the study progressed, significantly fewer predatory midges were found in cages treated with M. brunneum compared to untreated cages. Furthermore, by the end of the study, the number of predatory midges found in the Metarhizium-treated cages was four times lower than in the untreated cages. Both daily and final count of aphids were significantly affected by treatment. Aphidoletes aphidimyza applied alone suppressed the aphid population more effectively than M. brunneum applied alone. Additionally, the aphid population was most suppressed when both agents were combined, though the suppression was less than additive. View Full-Text
Keywords: natural enemies; non-target-effects; pathogen; predator; Aphidoletes aphidimyza; Metarhizium brunneum natural enemies; non-target-effects; pathogen; predator; Aphidoletes aphidimyza; Metarhizium brunneum
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Azevedo, A.G.C.; Steinwender, B.M.; Eilenberg, J.; Sigsgaard, L. Interactions among the Predatory Midge Aphidoletes aphidimyza (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae), the Fungal Pathogen Metarhizium brunneum (Ascomycota: Hypocreales), and Maize-Infesting Aphids in Greenhouse Mesocosms. Insects 2017, 8, 44.

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