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Molecular methods for assessing insect parasitism

  • M.H. Greenstone (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 March 2007

Determining insect parasitism rates is problematic due to the small size and lack of useful distinguishing morphological characters of many parasitoid taxa. To solve this problem, entomologists have employed one of four general methods to detect parasitoid protein or nucleic acid markers: serological assay; random amplified polymorphic DNA–polymerase chain reaction “RAPD-PCR” allozyme electrophoresis; or specific PCR. Serological methods, especially with monoclonal antibodies, are unrivalled for specificity, enabling discrimination at the stage as well as species level. However, they have not found favour with many workers, possibly due to complexity and expense. RAPD–PCR has been widely used, but can only be recommended for restricted applications because of its poor reproducibility. Allozyme electrophoresis provides reproducible detection and discrimination of closely related species. Specific-PCR is highly specific and reproducible, and also has the shortest latency for detection, usually 24 h or less after parasitization. The substantial existing literature on allozyme electrophoresis and specific PCR is used to support recommendations on what are apt to be fruitful enzyme systems or genomic regions for detecting and discriminating parasitoids in untried parasitoid–host assemblages.

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Y.-C. Zhu , J.D. Burd , N.C. Elliott & M.H. Greenstone (2000) Specific ribosomal DNA marker for early polymerase chain reaction detection of Aphelinus hordei (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae) and Aphidius colemani (Hymenoptera: Aphidiidae) from Diuraphis noxia (Homoptera: Aphididae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 93, 486491.

Y.-C. Zhu , A.K. Dowdy & J.E. Baker (1999) Detection of single-base substitution in an esterase gene and its linkage to malathion resistance in the parasitoid Anisopteromalus calandrae (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae). Pesticide Science 55, 398404.

Y.C. Zhu , E.W. Riddick , L. Williams , D.J. Schotzko , G.A Logarzo & C.G. Jackson (2004b) Potential of detection and identification of nymphal parasitoids (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) of Lygus bugs (Heteroptera: Miridae) by using polymerase chain reaction and ITS2 sequence analysis techniques. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 97, 743752.

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Bulletin of Entomological Research
  • ISSN: 0007-4853
  • EISSN: 1475-2670
  • URL: /core/journals/bulletin-of-entomological-research
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