The aphid room

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56 posts · 22,268 views

The aphid room is a blog focussed on biology, genetics, genomics and evolution of aphids... including details about thier biology, reproduction and breeding.

Mauro Mandrioli
56 posts

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  • May 13, 2014
  • 11:42 AM
  • 140 views

Listening to plants to reduce the use of pesticides

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

More than 40 years ago James Mallet published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution a paper entitled “The Evolution of insecticide resistance: have the insects won?”  where he stated at the end of the paper: The insects have won for the moment in tropical malaria control, and they seem to be winning in cotton, among a […]... Read more »

  • January 27, 2014
  • 11:07 AM
  • 167 views

Associative learning and aphid predation

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

When attacked by a natural enemy, aphids can use different alternative tactics that include raising and swiveling of the body, kicking, dropping off from the host  and smearing the attacker with cornicle secretions. As reported in literature, droplets of aphid cornicle secretion can clot the mouthparts of predators and function to dispense alarm pheromones. When alarm pheromones […]... Read more »

  • January 24, 2014
  • 09:36 AM
  • 169 views

Early warning for invasive pest crops and citizen science

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

Since crop domestication, multiple plant pests and pathogens spread in the world affecting the global food security. Insects are also acting as dangerous “invasive” species and global warming stimulates insects at higher latitudes, primarily through their winter  increased survival. In some cases, this is the result of a natural migration, but several pests have been […]... Read more »

  • October 23, 2013
  • 04:09 PM
  • 102 views

Guests in aphid room… the emerald ash borer Agrilus planipennis

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

The emerald ash borer Agrilus planipennis is a small beetle belonging to Buprestidae. This species is native to north-east China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Mongolia, where it behaves as a minor secondary pest. On the contrary, in the last years it has been identified as the cause of extensive dieback and death of native ash trees, […]... Read more »

  • October 18, 2013
  • 04:32 PM
  • 233 views

Do you prefer nectar or aphid honeydew?

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

The ecological success of ants depends on their ability to adjust their foraging strategies to both resources and environmental constraints. Indeed, many food-related factors influence the ants’ behaviour, such as the quality of the honeydew or nectar, the density of aphids, the spatial distribution of resources and the distance to the food. Even if ants […]... Read more »

  • September 6, 2013
  • 12:16 PM
  • 191 views

Crop pest insects and global warming

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

Looking in the web, I found the citation of a very intriguing paper entitled “Crop pests and pathogen move polewards in a warming world” where Daniel P. Bebber, Mark A. T. Ramotowski and Sarah J. Gurr analyzed 612 crop pests and pathogens (including insects) from around the world that had been collected over the past 50 years. According to this […]... Read more »

Daniel P. Bebber, Mark A. T. Ramotowski, Sarah J. Gurr. (2013) Crop pests and pathogens move polewards in a warming world. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1990  

  • August 26, 2013
  • 07:33 AM
  • 445 views

Guests in the aphid room… the brown marmorated stink bug Halyomorpha halys

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

Sometimes you are looking for some insects and you found other species… more interesting. Some days ago in the late afternoon I was taking some photos of ladybirds on plants near Modena when I met a male of the species  Halyomorpha halys. The brown marmorated stink bug H. halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) is native to North and South […]... Read more »

  • August 22, 2013
  • 10:20 AM
  • 189 views

Mycorrhizal networks warning plants of aphid attack!

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi form common symbioses with many plants, favouring plant mineral nutrient uptake and enhancing tolerance to root  pathogens  and drought. The fungi involved in mycorrhizal symbioses are not plant-specific so that their external mycelia can produce the so-called ‘common mycelial networks’ that connect the roots of different plant species, as well as individuals of the […]... Read more »

  • May 2, 2013
  • 11:50 AM
  • 123 views

Waste water and insect life… or better… insect death!

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

Neonicotinoids are neuro-active insecticides which derive their toxicity to target species from acting mainly agonistically on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) on the post-synaptic membrane. This means that normal nerve impulses become impaired. Among neonicotinoids, imidacloprid shows a selective toxicity for insects or at least it should! An interesting research, published by Tessa C. Van Dijk, Marja A. […]... Read more »

  • May 2, 2013
  • 09:11 AM
  • 257 views

Replacing bacterial symbionts with a fungal symbiont… unusual changes in aphids!

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

Current models of bacterial genome evolution suggest that in small populations a burst of transposable element activity may lead to inactivation of non-essential genes and large deletions, followed by erosion of the pseudogenes resulting in genome reduction. Due to this process, the smallest sequenced cellular genomes are all obligate intracellular symbionts of insects. Interestingly, it seems that the [...]... Read more »

  • April 30, 2013
  • 07:19 PM
  • 218 views

Leave aphids on your plants to preserve your children!

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

Aphids are frequently controlled by chemical compounds so that it could be not so unusual that you may interact with insecticides, for instance, after a general treatment of your home for spiders, insects or termites. A new study published by Elizabeth Milne et al. in the journal Cancer Causes & Control  reveals that women exposed within a year of [...]... Read more »

Greenop KR, Peters S, Bailey HD, Fritschi L, Attia J, Scott RJ, Glass DC, de Klerk NH, Alvaro F, Armstrong BK.... (2013) Exposure to pesticides and the risk of childhood brain tumors. Cancer causes . PMID: 23558445  

  • February 22, 2013
  • 03:34 PM
  • 333 views

Growing fast without zero population growth genes

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

If you had aphids on your plants, you have undoubtedly verified their fast growing rate. Indeed, aphids can reproduce quickly and it has been calculated that under ideal conditions (such as absence of predators, parasites, pathogens and benign climatic conditions, especially including optimal temperatures of 20 -25 °C), a single asexual female could in theory [...]... Read more »

  • February 9, 2013
  • 03:31 PM
  • 353 views

Aphid? An insect falling like a cat!

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

Aphids are wingless individuals (just some of them have wings) that live on leaves and face their predators and parasitoids simply by dropping off plants. Indeed, in order to avoid immediate dangers, aphids do not have any aggressive behaviour, but they simply jump from the plants landing on their legs, regardless of their initial orientation on [...]... Read more »

  • February 1, 2013
  • 04:27 PM
  • 302 views

Insects are still waiting for their quadruplex DNA!

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

A recent paper by Biffi et al. reported in Nature Chemistry clear evidence about the presence and quantitative visualization of DNA G-quadruplex structures in human chromosomes. Contrarily to what reported in several newspapers, the main result of this paper is not related to the occurrence of G-quadruplexes in human cells, but to their identification and [...]... Read more »

Oganesian L, & Bryan TM. (2007) Physiological relevance of telomeric G-quadruplex formation: a potential drug target. BioEssays : news and reviews in molecular, cellular and developmental biology, 29(2), 155-65. PMID: 17226803  

Smith JS, Chen Q, Yatsunyk LA, Nicoludis JM, Garcia MS, Kranaster R, Balasubramanian S, Monchaud D, Teulade-Fichou MP, Abramowitz L.... (2011) Rudimentary G-quadruplex-based telomere capping in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Nature structural , 18(4), 478-85. PMID: 21399640  

Wu Y, & Brosh RM Jr. (2010) G-quadruplex nucleic acids and human disease. The FEBS journal, 277(17), 3470-88. PMID: 20670277  

  • January 25, 2013
  • 04:01 PM
  • 267 views

Guests in the aphid room…. the digital PCR

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

After the PCR discovery due to Kary Mullis, several improvements have been obtained in order to amplify and quantify nucleic acids. Among them, the Real-Time PCR, also called quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), is probably one of the most powerful and sensitive techniques for quantitative gene expression analysis and pathogen detection. As the name suggests, [...]... Read more »

Baker, M. (2012) Digital PCR hits its stride. Nature Methods, 9(6), 541-544. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.2027  

  • January 24, 2013
  • 04:17 PM
  • 291 views

A DNA sequence (even if long) isn’t enough to understand a genome

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

from DNA sequences to genome understanding... Read more »

  • January 23, 2013
  • 03:02 PM
  • 507 views

Evolving aphids: one genome-one organism insects or holobionts?

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

Recently I published with the colleague and friend Gian Carlo Manicardi a short review in Invertebrate Survival Journal about the relevant role of symbionts in evolution of aphids. Aphids have obligate mutualistic relationships with microorganisms that provide them with essential substances lacking in their diet, together with symbionts conferring them conditional adaptive  advantages related, for [...]... Read more »

Mandrioli M, Manicardi GC. (2013) Evolving aphids: one genome-one organism insects or holobionts?. Invertebrate Survival Journal, 1-6. info:/

  • January 15, 2013
  • 12:43 PM
  • 266 views

Make your choice.. of plants!

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

Aphids harbour several obligate and facultative bacterial symbionts that have important effects on their life. Several surveys of secondary symbionts clearly show that particular species are strongly associated with aphids feeding on certain food plants. For instance, most pea aphid clones feeding on clover Trifolium sp. harbour Regiella insecticola, while those feeding on Medicago usually have Hamiltonella defensa. How can we explain [...]... Read more »

  • January 9, 2013
  • 09:15 AM
  • 243 views

Insects? Not just one genome-one organism

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

In the last day I read with great interest the intriguing review entitled “A symbiotic view of life: we have never been individuals” written by  Scott F. Gilbert, Jan Sapp and Alfred I. Tauber and published in The Quarterly Review of Biology. Due to their parthenogenetic reproduction aphids are generally considered a sort of clone so that each [...]... Read more »

  • November 28, 2012
  • 10:38 AM
  • 266 views

Fight together or escape? an insect affair!

by Mauro Mandrioli in The aphid room

Fungi specialised to attack insects (in the photo from the blog Hyphal Happenings) are commonly present in the environment so that they have driven many aspects of the insect evolution, affecting behavioural, chemical and immune systems. In a recent paper published in PLoS One, Christine Turnbull and colleagues compared the activity of cuticular antifungal compounds in thrips [...]... Read more »

Turnbull C, Wilson PD, Hoggard S, Gillings M, Palmer C, Smith S, Beattie D, Hussey S, Stow A, & Beattie A. (2012) Primordial enemies: fungal pathogens in thrips societies. PloS one, 7(11). PMID: 23185420  

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