Integrated pest management

Help our pest management researchers with aphid collections

Can you help our needy scientists overcome an ‘aphid shortage’ in support of pest management research?

It might seem like a strange request, but our researchers are in need of live aphid populations from locations around Australia for experiments being undertaken as part of the Australian Grains Pest Innovation Program (AGPIP).

The research is examining options for manipulating endosymbionts – tiny micro-organisms living inside pest insects – to reduce the risk of crop damage and plant virus transmission.

A closer look at endosymbionts

Endosymbionts are bacteria that live within the cells of other organisms (such as insects) in a symbiotic relationship. Co-evolving over thousands or millions of years, endosymbionts can become crucial to certain survival processes in the insect host. These processes may include nutrition, reproduction and resistance to external pressures, such as insecticides or climatic variations, as well as impact upon the ability to transmit viruses and susceptibility to predators.

By manipulating endosymbionts within the insect, it is possible to disrupt these processes and reduce pest impacts. AGPIP researchers looking to use this method in pest aphids to reduce the impacts of direct feeding damage and aphid-to-plant virus transmission.

The research involves endosymbionts being transferred from one aphid species into another, as well as the suppression of endosymbionts in pest species through the application of heat and chemical treatments.

Live aphids needed!

The success of this work is dependent on culturing live pest populations collected from the field.

Currently, due to COVID-19 related restrictions here in Victoria, we are hampered in our ability to undertake field collections of pest species.

Therefore, we are asking for your help in collecting the aphids!

The research team are seeking aphids collected from locations around Australia, with a particular emphasis on collections from non-crop habitats such as roadsides and pastures. Our researchers are specifically interested in receiving specimens of:

• Russian wheat aphid (Diuraphis noxia)

• Oat aphid (Rhopalosiphum padi)

• Green peach aphid (Myzus persicae)

• Pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum)

Russian wheat aphid and oat aphid are commonly found in cereals and grasses. Green peach aphid inhabits a variety of plants such as canola, vegetables, pulse crops and brassica weeds. Pea aphid is often found in lucerne, pulses and pasture legumes.

For more information and advice for sending through collected specimen, please contact Associate Professor Paul Umina on 0405 464 259 or via email:


AGPIP is a collaboration between the Pest & Environmental Adaptation Research Group at the University of Melbourne and cesar. The program is a co-investment by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the University of Melbourne, together with in-kind contributions from all program partners.

Cover image: Photo by Andrew Weeks, Cesar Australia

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