Identifying Molecular-Based Trophic Interactions as a Resource for Advanced Integrated Pest Management

Insects. 2021 Apr 16;12(4):358. doi: 10.3390/insects12040358.


Biodiversity is an essential attribute of sustainable agroecosystems. Diverse arthropod communities deliver multiple ecosystem services, such as biological control, which are the core of integrated pest management programs. The molecular analysis of arthropod diets has emerged as a new tool to monitor and help predict the outcomes of management on the functioning of arthropod communities. Here, we briefly review the recent molecular analysis of predators and parasitoids in agricultural environments. We focus on the developments of molecular gut content analysis (MGCA) implemented to unravel the function of community members, and their roles in biological control. We examine the agricultural systems in which this tool has been applied, and at what ecological scales. Additionally, we review the use of MGCA to uncover vertebrate roles in pest management, which commonly receives less attention. Applying MGCA to understand agricultural food webs is likely to provide an indicator of how management strategies either improve food web properties (i.e., enhanced biological control), or adversely impact them.

Keywords: ELISA; NGS; PCR; agricultural communities; food-webs; gut content analysis; metabarcoding; molecular trophic interactions; species interactions.

Publication types

  • Review