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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: August 2010

15 - Applications of molecular ecology to IPM: what impact?



The use of molecular markers in biology, phylogeny and ecology has a long and distinguished history. Variable heritable protein markers (mostly allozymes) formed the basis of numerous studies in population biology and genetics (see Loxdale and den Hollander, 1989; Symondson and Liddell, 1996 for reviews). They enabled boundaries between functionally independent populations to be identified and allowed estimation of gene flow (and inferred migration) between them. Their use has been largely replaced by the use of DNA-based (often referred to as “molecular”) techniques and it is here where we focus our discussion. We use “molecular ecology” to mean the application of molecular biology to population ecology (see reviews in Avise, 1994; Schierwater et al., 1994; Moritz and Lavery, 1996; Carvalho, 1998; Sunnucks, 2000; see Loxdale and Lushai, 1999; MacDonald and Loxdale, 2004 for reviews on entomological applications).

Reasons for the shift to DNA-based methods for studying pests include the following.

a. Technological factors, such as the fact that usable DNA can be obtained from very small specimens (e.g. tiny grape phylloxera Daktulosphaira vitifoliae, Downie, 2000; individual aphid eggs, Sloane et al., 2001) and preserved specimens such as pinned museum collections or ethanol-preserved suction-trapped insects.


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