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Enhancing biocontrol in strawberry production: using molecular tools to determine patterns of predation - HH3121SSF

The objective of this research is to determine the pattern of feeding relationships among predatory mites and insects and insect pest species in a field grown crop. The model crop is strawberry grown under Spanish tunnels. The PCR technique developed in HH2305SSF, enabling us to detect predation on pest mite species by a range of predatory mite species, will be used, and primers designed that are specific to the strawberry aphid Chaetosiphon fragaefolii, the capsid Lygus rugulipennis, and to western flower thrips Frankliniella occidentalis. This will enable us to determine consumption patterns on these species by naturally occurring and artificially released predator species. Laboratory feeding experiments and field collections and experiments will be undertaken to validate the PCR technique for these species. Results from these experiments will enable us to expand the food web developed in HH2305SSF and increase our understanding of predator/prey interactions in this crop. This will enhance our ability to develop sustainable and cost effective management strategies for pests in UK horticultural crops, and reduce pesticide use in the horticultural sector, which is in line with Defra’s Policy Objectives.
Objective 1: Determine the applicability of a molecular technique for detecting predation on thrips, capsids and aphids in tunnel grown strawberry.
Objective 2: Define the predation rates of anthocorids, chrysopids and phytoseiids (predatory insects and mites) on thrips, capsids and aphids on strawberry.
Objective 3: Determine the impact of alternative prey sources on the consumption of thrips, capsids and aphids by the predatory species.
Objective 4: Define the implications of these feeding behaviours for enhancing practical biocontrol in strawberry and communicate results to growers and scientists.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2007

Cost: £341,619
Contractor / Funded Organisations
East Malling Research
Allocated - EMR              
Biological Control              
Pest Control              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Sustainable Production