Call out for aphid collection begins

Call out for aphid collection begins

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Growers and agronomists are asked to help in the collection of aphids as part of a research project aimed at improving pest management in the grains industry.

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Growers and agronomists are asked to help in the collection of aphids as part of a research project aimed at improving pest management in the grains industry.

The research being undertaken as part of the Australian Grains Pest Innovation Program (AGPIP) - a GRDC and University of Melbourne co-investment.

It is examining options for manipulating tiny micro-organisms that live inside pest insects, to reduce the risk of crop damage and plant virus transmission.

The success of this work is dependent on culturing live pest populations collected from the field but the University of Melbourne's Paul Umina said because of COVID-19 related restrictions in Vic, it had hampered the ability to undertake field collections of pest species.

"Therefore, we are asking for help from the grains community in collecting aphids," Associate professor Paul Umina said.

The research team is seeking live aphids collected from locations around Australia, with a particular emphasis on collections from non-crop habitats such as roadsides and pastures.

The researchers are specifically interested in receiving specimens of Russian wheat aphid, oat aphid, geen peach aphid and pea aphid.

Russian wheat aphids and oat aphids are commonly found in cereals and grasses. Green peach aphids inhabit a variety of plants such as canola, vegetables, pulse crops and brassica weeds. Pea aphids are often found in lucerne, pulses and pasture legumes.

The tiny micro-organisms such as endosymbionts are bacteria that live within the cells of other organisms - such as insects - in a symbiotic relationship.

Co-evolving over thousands or millions of years, endosymbionts can become crucial to certain survival processes in the insect host.

These processes may include nutrition, reproduction and resistance to external pressures, such as insecticides or climatic variations, as well as impact upon the ability to transmit viruses and an insect's susceptibility to predators.

AGPIP research leader Ary Hoffmann said by manipulating endosymbionts within the insect, it was possible to disrupt these processes and reduce pest impacts.

"We are looking to use this method in pest aphids to reduce the impacts of direct feeding damage and aphid-to-plant virus transmission," Professor Hoffman said.

The research involves endosymbionts being transferred from one aphid species into another, as well as the suppression of endosymbionts in pest species through the application of heat and chemical treatments.

For more information and advice on submitting collected specimens, contact Associate Professor Umina on 0405 464 259 or via email at pumina@unimelb.edu.au.

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