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Review

Identifying Molecular-Based Trophic Interactions as a Resource for Advanced Integrated Pest Management

1
Department of Entomology, Tifton Campus, University of Georgia, Tifton, GA 31794, USA
2
Department of Entomology, Athens Campus, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
3
Southeast Watershed Research, USDA, Tifton, GA 31793, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Muhammad Haseeb, Ashfaq Ahmad Sial, Jawwad A. Qureshi and Youichi Kobori
Insects 2021, 12(4), 358; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12040358
Received: 25 March 2021 / Revised: 12 April 2021 / Accepted: 13 April 2021 / Published: 16 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Improving IPM of Specialty Crop Pests and Global Food Security)
With increasing human populations and the need for ecosystem services to work in synergy with the production of specialty crops, the maintenance of biodiversity is becoming increasingly important. The aims of this study were to review the current literature employing molecular analysis to reveal the roles of species in providing biological control in agricultural systems. Decrypting the trophic networks between biological control agents and agricultural pests is essential to build eco-friendly strategies that promote the natural management of pests before any mediations, such as chemical control strategies, are required. It was found, during the review process, that our understanding of biological control communities is lacking in many agricultural systems, including common fruit and vegetable production, both in terms of what species are doing for crop production, and how various environmental challenges (i.e., land-use and habitat management concepts, such as wildflower borders) influence species interactions and the delivery of biological control services. New techniques harvesting the power of DNA to reveal species’ roles in specialty crops are an avenue forward to help integrate natural pest management into our standard operating procedures.
Biodiversity is an essential attribute of sustainable agroecosystems. Diverse arthropod communities deliver multiple ecosystem services, such as biological control, which are the core of integrated pest management programs. The molecular analysis of arthropod diets has emerged as a new tool to monitor and help predict the outcomes of management on the functioning of arthropod communities. Here, we briefly review the recent molecular analysis of predators and parasitoids in agricultural environments. We focus on the developments of molecular gut content analysis (MGCA) implemented to unravel the function of community members, and their roles in biological control. We examine the agricultural systems in which this tool has been applied, and at what ecological scales. Additionally, we review the use of MGCA to uncover vertebrate roles in pest management, which commonly receives less attention. Applying MGCA to understand agricultural food webs is likely to provide an indicator of how management strategies either improve food web properties (i.e., enhanced biological control), or adversely impact them. View Full-Text
Keywords: agricultural communities; ELISA; food-webs; gut content analysis; metabarcoding; molecular trophic interactions; NGS; PCR; species interactions agricultural communities; ELISA; food-webs; gut content analysis; metabarcoding; molecular trophic interactions; NGS; PCR; species interactions
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MDPI and ACS Style

Schmidt, J.M.; Acebes-Doria, A.; Blaauw, B.; Kheirodin, A.; Pandey, S.; Lennon, K.; Kaldor, A.D.; Toledo, P.F.S.; Grabarczyk, E.E. Identifying Molecular-Based Trophic Interactions as a Resource for Advanced Integrated Pest Management. Insects 2021, 12, 358. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12040358

AMA Style

Schmidt JM, Acebes-Doria A, Blaauw B, Kheirodin A, Pandey S, Lennon K, Kaldor AD, Toledo PFS, Grabarczyk EE. Identifying Molecular-Based Trophic Interactions as a Resource for Advanced Integrated Pest Management. Insects. 2021; 12(4):358. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12040358

Chicago/Turabian Style

Schmidt, Jason M., Angelita Acebes-Doria, Brett Blaauw, Arash Kheirodin, Swikriti Pandey, Kylie Lennon, Amos D. Kaldor, Pedro F.S. Toledo, and Erin E. Grabarczyk 2021. "Identifying Molecular-Based Trophic Interactions as a Resource for Advanced Integrated Pest Management" Insects 12, no. 4: 358. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12040358

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