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Impact of Plant Growth-Promoting Rhizobacteria and Natural Enemies on Myzus persicae (Hemiptera: Aphididae) Infestations in Pepper

Boutard-Hunt, Caroline, Smart, Christine D., Thaler, Jennifer, Nault, Brian A.
Journal of economic entomology 2009 v.102 no.6 pp. 2183-2191
insect pests, Myzus persicae, plant pests, peppers, Capsicum annuum, insect control, biological control, biological control agents, Rhizobiales, plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria, soil inoculation, insect attractants, volatile organic compounds, natural enemies, integrated pest management, population density, biological resistance, crop yield, crop quality, New York
Management of green peach aphid, Myzus persicae (Sulzer) (Hemiptera: Aphididae), in bell pepper, Capsicum annuum L., was explored through a combination of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) and endemic biological control in New York in 2006 and 2007. We hypothesized that by using PGPR-treated peppers 1) M. persicae infestations would be reduced via induced resistance, 2) natural enemies would be lured to plants through the elicitation of volatile organic compounds, and 3) yield amount and quality would be improved. Pepper seed was planted in soil containing the PGPR formulation Bio Yield or untreated soil. Plants were transplanted to field plots and then treated with an insecticide regimen designed to remove or conserve populations of natural enemies. Apterous aphids and natural enemies were counted weekly on plants and pepper fruit were harvested, graded and weighed three times. PGPR did not directly or indirectly reduce aphid densities in either year. In 2006, there were more natural enemies in PGPR-treated plots than untreated ones, but this was probably a density-dependent response to aphid densities rather than a response of natural enemies to volatiles from PGPR-treated plants. For the first harvest date in 2006, yield of all fruit grades, especially the premium Fancy Grade, was 1.7–2.3 times greater in PGPR-treated plots than in untreated plots. However, no differences in yield were observed for the other two harvest dates or overall yield in 2006; no differences in yield among treatments were detected in 2007. Our results suggest that PGPR will not significantly impact M. persicae infestations or natural enemy populations but could enhance yield and quality of pepper fruit in some years.