The establishment of new symbiotic interactions between introduced species may facilitate invasion success. For instance, tawny crazy ant (Nylanderia fulva Mayr) is known to be an opportunistic tender of honeydew producing insects and this ants' symbiotic interactions have exacerbated agricultural damage in some invaded regions of the world. The invasive sorghum aphid (Melanaphis sorghi Theobald) was first reported as a pest in the continental United States-in Texas and Louisiana-as recent as 2013, and tawny crazy ant (TCA) was reported in Texas in the early 2000s. Although these introductions are relatively recent, TCA workers tend sorghum aphids in field and greenhouse settings. This study quantified the tending duration of TCA workers to sorghum aphids and the impact of TCA tending on aphid biomass. For this study aphids were collected from three different host plant species (i.e., sugarcane, Johnson grass, and sorghum) and clone colonies were established. Sorghum is the main economic crop in which these aphids occur, hence we focused our study on the potential impacts of interactions on sorghum. Quantification of invasive ant-aphid interactions, on either stems or leaves of sorghum plants, were conducted in greenhouse conditions. Our results show that although these two invasive insect species do not have a long coevolutionary history, TCA developed a tending interaction with sorghum aphid, and aphids were observed excreting honeydew after being antennated by TCA workers. Interestingly, this relatively recent symbiotic interaction significantly increased overall aphid biomass for aphids that were positioned on stems and collected from Johnson grass. It is recommended to continue monitoring the interaction between TCA and sorghum aphid in field conditions due to its potential to increase aphid populations and sorghum plant damage.

Quantifying the impacts of symbiotic interactions between two invasive species: the tawny crazy ant (Nylanderia fulva) tending the sorghum aphid (Melanaphis sorghi)

Malacrinò, Antonino;
2022-01-01

Abstract

The establishment of new symbiotic interactions between introduced species may facilitate invasion success. For instance, tawny crazy ant (Nylanderia fulva Mayr) is known to be an opportunistic tender of honeydew producing insects and this ants' symbiotic interactions have exacerbated agricultural damage in some invaded regions of the world. The invasive sorghum aphid (Melanaphis sorghi Theobald) was first reported as a pest in the continental United States-in Texas and Louisiana-as recent as 2013, and tawny crazy ant (TCA) was reported in Texas in the early 2000s. Although these introductions are relatively recent, TCA workers tend sorghum aphids in field and greenhouse settings. This study quantified the tending duration of TCA workers to sorghum aphids and the impact of TCA tending on aphid biomass. For this study aphids were collected from three different host plant species (i.e., sugarcane, Johnson grass, and sorghum) and clone colonies were established. Sorghum is the main economic crop in which these aphids occur, hence we focused our study on the potential impacts of interactions on sorghum. Quantification of invasive ant-aphid interactions, on either stems or leaves of sorghum plants, were conducted in greenhouse conditions. Our results show that although these two invasive insect species do not have a long coevolutionary history, TCA developed a tending interaction with sorghum aphid, and aphids were observed excreting honeydew after being antennated by TCA workers. Interestingly, this relatively recent symbiotic interaction significantly increased overall aphid biomass for aphids that were positioned on stems and collected from Johnson grass. It is recommended to continue monitoring the interaction between TCA and sorghum aphid in field conditions due to its potential to increase aphid populations and sorghum plant damage.
Agricultural pest
Agro-ecosystem
Ant-aphid interaction
Ecological facilitation
Myrmecophily
Symbiosis
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12318/132007
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