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J Insect Sci. 2010;10:197. doi: 10.1673/031.010.19701.

Evaluation of a microbial inhibitor in artificial diets of a generalist caterpillar, Heliothis virescens.

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  • 1Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843-2475, USA.

Abstract

Controlling microbial growth in artificial diets is a key component in the rearing of laboratory insects. In this study an antimicrobial agent, Diet Antimicrobial Agent (DAA), was tested for its ability to suppress microbial growth on a range of different diets, and for its effect on larval and pupal performance of individuals from two different strains of Heliothis virescens Fabricus (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). In the first experiment, it was found that the presence of DAA in a pinto bean-based diet was highly effective at suppressing microbial growth relative to other methods, and that survival of caterpillars on diets with DAA was superior to other treatments. Caterpillars also performed best on diets with DAA, although this may have been the result of laboratory selection pressure as these caterpillars had been reared on pinto bean-based diets with DAA for several hundred generations. A second experiment was conducted, using different diets and a different strain of H. virescens to more fully evaluate DAA. Here it was found that DAA significantly suppressed microbial growth and development, particularly in synthetic diets. There was no significant effect of DAA on pupal development time or mass gain. There was a statistically significant effect of DAA on eclosion time for two of the diets, although the effect did not seem to be biologically meaningful. The findings suggest that DAA is an effective suppressor of microbial growth on artificial diets, and that its net effect on developing diet-reared insects is neutral.

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