Identification of top-down forces regulating cotton aphid population growth in transgenic Bt cotton in central China

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Abstract

The cotton aphid Aphis gossypii Glover is the main aphid pest in cotton fields in the Yangtze River Valley Cotton-planting Zone (YRZ) in central China. Various natural enemies may attack the cotton aphid in Bt cotton fields but no studies have identified potential specific top-down forces that could help manage this pest in the YRZ in China. In order to identify possibilities for managing the cotton aphid, we monitored cotton aphid population dynamics and identified the effect of natural enemies on cotton aphid population growth using various exclusion cages in transgenic Cry1Ac (Bt)+CpTI (Cowpea trypsin inhibitor) cotton field in 2011. The aphid population growth in the open field (control) was significantly lower than those protected or restricted from exposure to natural enemies in the various exclusion cage types tested. The ladybird predator Propylaea japonica Thunberg represented 65% of Coccinellidae predators, and other predators consisted mainly of syrphids (2.1%) and spiders (1.5%). The aphid parasitoids Aphidiines represented 76.7% of the total count of the natural enemy guild (mainly Lysiphlebia japonica Ashmead and Binodoxys indicus Subba Rao & Sharma). Our results showed that P. japonica can effectively delay the establishment and subsequent population growth of aphids during the cotton growing season. Aphidiines could also reduce aphid density although their impact may be shadowed by the presence of coccinellids in the open field (likely both owing to resource competition and intraguild predation). The implications of these results are discussed in a framework of the compatibility of transgenic crops and top-down forces exerted by natural enemy guild.

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Han, P., Niu, C. Y., & Desneux, N. (2014). Identification of top-down forces regulating cotton aphid population growth in transgenic Bt cotton in central China. PLoS ONE, 9(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0102980

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