This project aims to characterise potato aphid (Macrosiphum euphorbiae) populations collected from strawberry crops grown in different geographic regions within the UK by establishing their genotypic diversity, and their susceptibility to their most important parasitoid species (Aphidius ervi and Praon volucre). Secondly, the project will explore the genetic diversity of the main parasitoids currently used as biological controls of aphids in strawberry crops. Thirdly, the project will investigate the richness and diversity of endosymbiont communities found in potato aphids collected from strawberry crops grown in different geographic regions within the UK, and will explore the role of the aphid facultative endosymbiont communities in determining parasitoid resistance. Finally, the project will assess the impact of the different levels of parasitism susceptibility on aphid biological control efficacy by testing the interactions between aphid genotypes and parasitoid species/genotypes in the field. The data generated will allow us to gather information for the development of integrated pest management of the aphid pests of strawberry crops.
The strawberry industry represents a substantial component of UK fruit production with an annual value of up to £284 million, but in the last few years production has been affected by various environmental stresses, such as insect pests. Aphids are common and economically important pests in strawberry, in fact the distinguishing feature of strawberry crops is the coexistance of many aphid species such as the strawberry aphid, shallot aphid, melon and cotton aphid, the potato aphid and many other species that occur less freequently.
Harper Adams University
NIAB at East Malling, James Hutton Institute