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J Insect Physiol. 2012 Oct;58(10):1334-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2012.07.007. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

Digestion, growth and reproductive performance of the zoophytophagous rove beetle Philonthus quisquiliarius (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) fed on animal and plant based diets.

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Laboratorio de Interacción Planta-Insecto, Departamento de Biología Medioambiental, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, CSIC, Ramiro de Maeztu 9, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


The zoophytophagous feeding habits of larvae and adults of the rove beetle, Philonthus quisquiliarius (Gyllenhal) (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae), are reported for the first time. This study evaluates the effects of different feeding regimes on its growth and reproductive performance (i.e., larval growth, adult weight gain, consumption, fecundity and fertility) and digestive physiology. Larvae presented similar growth rates when fed on living animal or on green plant material for 48 h. However, higher consumption rates and lower efficiencies of conversion of digested matter to body mass were obtained when leaves were consumed. Adults presented also positive weight gains regardless of the food consumed (plant or animal material). Interestingly, the highest weight gain rate and efficiency of digestion resulted when adults fed on a rearing diet containing nutrients from both animals and plants. Moreover, we have found negative effects upon P. quisquiliarius fecundity and fertility when supplemental plant nutrients were removed from the optimum rearing diet. Physiological adaptations to allow trophic switching between predation and phytophagy have been found, such as the higher ratio of α-amylase activity to protease activity to deal with the inverted protein-carbohydrate ratio of plant versus animal tissues. Furthermore, this species has an arsenal of digestive proteases whose activity is affected by the type of diet ingested. All together, our results suggest that P. quisquiliarius needs certain nutrients, which are obtained only from plant material. This knowledge will help to understand the complex trophic interactions that occur in agroecosystems.

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