Some factors affecting the detection period of aphid remains in predators using ELISA.
Quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELSIA) was used to detect antigens of the aphid Sitobion avenae (F.) in the guts of Linyphiidae, Carabidae and Staphylinidae. The effects of temperature, both constant and variable, and size of meal on the detection period and antigen decay rate were studied in the laboratory. Predators fed freshly-killed aphids were subsequently kept at one of several temperature regimes for a period from 0 to 13 days before being assayed for aphid remains. The proportion of prey remaining at intervals after feeding was measured. Curves were fitted to transformed data and the detection period estimated. The rate of decline in detectable remains was temperature-related, with the rate increasing as temperature increased. Prey remains in Staphylinidae declined much faster than in either Carabidae or Linyphiidae. In all but one case the decline was exponential with time. Variable temperature regimes produced results very similar to those obtained under conditions of constant temperature. Meal size produced a considerable difference in the amount of aphid remains detectable but little difference in the rate of decline or the estimated detection period. Data of the above types are a prerequisite for postmortem quantification of predator meals.