Behavioral responses of Tribolium castaneum to mycotoxin contaminated wheat



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Red flour beetles are major pests of stored grains throughout the world. Since the females can lay up to 300-400 eggs in their lifetime, an infestation can get out of control quickly (Brown et al, 2009). Although ingestion of stored product insects is not associated with any major health risks to humans or animals, infested products can have a pungent odors and are often unsuitable for consumption (Smith et al, 1971). To understand what may attract the beetles to a food source, we tested to see how they would react to mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON), a common mycotoxin found in stored grains that have been contaminated with mold (Sobrova et al, 2010). Red flour beetles routinely feed on grain that has been contaminated with mold; however, it is unknown if red flour beetles follow volatile cues from mold to find food sources. This research is to find out if red flour beetles are attracted to wheat that has been contaminated with the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON). The results show that the male beetles avoided the mycotoxin and that the females show neither an attraction or an avoidance of the volatile. Ultimately, identifying compounds that attract or repel stored product insects can help us develop novel behaviorally based-strategies to prevent insects from locating food sources.



Fall 2018