Tracking medfly predation by the wolf spider, Pardosa cribata Simon, in citrus orchards using PCR-based gut-content analysis
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The Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann), which is often controlled chemically, is a major citrus pest in Spain; however, alternative biological control strategies such as those based on the conservation of polyphagous predators should be developed. The wolf spider, Pardosa cribata Simon, is an abundant predator found in citrus orchards in eastern Spain. In this study, we have evaluated polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based techniques as a means of detecting C. capitata DNA remains in P. cribata specimens. To do so, two pairs of C. capitata species-specific primers were designed and tested. Primer specificity was tested on species closely related to C. capitata and with other pests and natural enemies present in citrus orchards. Medfly DNA was detectable in 100% of P. cribata from 0 to 12 h post ingestion for both primer pairs, decreasing to 37% at 96 h after prey ingestion for one pair of primers. DNA detectability half-lives were of 78.25 h and 78.08 h for each pair of primers but no statistical differences were found between them. Pardosa cribata specimens were field-collected daily after sterile C. capitata pupae had been deployed in the citrus orchard. Afterwards, the wolf spiders were analyzed and DNA remains of C. capitata were detected in 5% of them, with a peak of 15% coinciding with maximum C. capitata emergence. This study is the first to reveal the potential use of DNA markers to track medfly predation by P. cribata in citrus orchards and provides a new tool to estimate the potential role of this spider in biological-control conservation programs.