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Detecting host-parasitoid interactions in an invasive Lepidopteran using nested tagging DNA-metabarcoding

Kitson, James John Neil; Hahn, Christoph; Sands, Richard J; Straw, Nigel A; Evans, Darren M; Lunt, David H


James John Neil Kitson

Christoph Hahn

Richard J Sands

Nigel A Straw

Darren M Evans


Determining the host–parasitoid interactions and parasitism rates for invasive species entering novel environments is an important first step in assessing potential routes for biocontrol and integrated pest management. Conventional insect rearing techniques followed by taxonomic identification are widely used to obtain such data, but this can be time-consuming and prone to biases. Here, we present a next-generation sequencing approach for use in ecological studies which allows for individual-level metadata tracking of large numbers of invertebrate samples through the use of hierarchically organised molecular identification tags. We demonstrate its utility using a sample data set examining both species identity and levels of parasitism in late larval stages of the oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea—Linn. 1758), an invasive species recently established in the United Kingdom. Overall, we find that there are two main species exploiting the late larval stages of oak processionary moth in the United Kingdom with the main parasitoid (Carcelia iliaca—Ratzeburg, 1840) parasitising 45.7% of caterpillars, while a rare secondary parasitoid (Compsilura concinnata—Meigen, 1824) was also detected in 0.4% of caterpillars. Using this approach on all life stages of the oak processionary moth may demonstrate additional parasitoid diversity. We discuss the wider potential of nested tagging DNA metabarcoding for constructing large, highly resolved species interaction networks.


Kitson, J. J. N., Hahn, C., Sands, R. J., Straw, N. A., Evans, D. M., & Lunt, D. H. (2019). Detecting host-parasitoid interactions in an invasive Lepidopteran using nested tagging DNA-metabarcoding. Molecular ecology, 28(2), 471-483.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 26, 2018
Online Publication Date Feb 27, 2018
Publication Date 2019-01
Deposit Date Apr 1, 2022
Publicly Available Date Apr 13, 2022
Journal Molecular ecology
Print ISSN 0962-1083
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 2
Pages 471-483
Keywords Biocontrol; Invasive species; Nested tagging; Parasitism; Species interactions
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