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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2007

The influence of time and temperature on molecular gut content analysis: Adalia bipunctata fed with Rhopalosiphum padi

McMillan S, Kuusk AK, Cassel-Lundhagen A, Ekbom B


Gut content analysis is a useful tool when studying arthropod predator-prey interactions. We used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique to examine how detection of prey DNA in the gut content of predators was influenced by digestion time and temperature. Such knowledge is critical before applying PCR-based gut content analysis to field collected predators. Larvae of the two-spotted ladybeetle (Adalia bipunctata L.) were fed with the bird cherry-oat aphid (Rhopalosiphum padi L.) at either 21 degrees C or 14 degrees C. After consuming one aphid, the predators were allowed to digest the prey for a range of time periods up to 24 hours. The influence of temperature on A. bipunctata feeding behavior was also recorded. From the fed larvae, total DNA was extracted and PCR reactions with R. padi specific primers were run. The number of A. bipunctata that tested positive for R. padi DNA was negatively related to the length of digestion time. Temperature influenced larval feeding behavior but did not have a significant effect on R. padi DNA detection. After pooling the data from both temperature treatments we estimated the time point when R. padi DNA could be amplified from 50% of the fed A. bipunctata by PCR to be 4.87 hours. With such a rapid decrease in prey DNA detection success, positive PCR reactions will most likely be the result of predation events occurring shortly before capture. If a defined digestion temperature range has proven not to influence prey detection, PCR data obtained from predators collected within that particular range can be interpreted in the same way

Published in

Insect Science
2007, Volume: 14, number: 5, pages: 353-358

    SLU Authors

    • Kuusk, Anna-Karin

      • Department of Entomology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Lundhagen, Anna

        • Department of Entomology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
        • Ekbom, Barbara

          • Department of Entomology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Agricultural Science
        Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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