References of "Francis, Frédéric"
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See detailForaging wireworms are attracted to root-produced volatile aldehydes
Barsics, Fanny ULg; Delory, Benjamin M.; Delaplace, Pierre ULg et al

in Journal of Pest Science (2016)

Soil-dwelling insects are known to react to chemical cues they encounter in the rhizosphere. Whether wireworms (Coleoptera, Elateridae) use root-emitted volatile organic chemicals to localize their host ... [more ▼]

Soil-dwelling insects are known to react to chemical cues they encounter in the rhizosphere. Whether wireworms (Coleoptera, Elateridae) use root-emitted volatile organic chemicals to localize their host plant remains, however, poorly understood. Here, we aimed at identifying chemical cues released by barley roots that attract Agriotes sordidus. In a first behavioral experiment, we assessed the ability of wireworms to orient towards live barley roots, using dual-choice olfactometers suitable for belowground insects. Then, we collected the volatile organic compounds (VOC) produced by barley roots using a dynamic head-space sampling approach. VOC were quantified and identified using gas chromatography—mass spectrometry (GC–MS). The odorant blend is composed of four aldehydes, namely hexanal, (E)-hex-2-enal, (E)-non-2-enal, and (E,Z)-nona-2,6-dienal. In a second set of dual-choice bioassays, wireworms were attracted towards a synthetic blend of these four major compounds. However, the synthetic blend was not as attractive as live roots, which is partially explained by the absence of CO2, commonly known as a strong attractant for soil-dwelling insects. While CO2 indicates the presence of living material in the vicinity, we hypothesize that additional VOC inform about the plant suitability. A better understanding of these belowground signals would contribute to the development of new integrated control strategies against wireworms. [less ▲]

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See detailDiversity and ecology survey of mosquitoes potential vectors in Belgian equestrian farms: A threat prevention of mosquito-borne equine arboviruses
Boukraa, Slimane ULg; de la Grandière, Maria Ana ULg; Bawin, Thomas ULg et al

in Preventive Veterinary Medicine (2016), 124

Emergence of West Nile Virus was recently recorded in several European countries, which can lead to severe health problems in horse populations. Europe is also at risk of introduction of mosquito-borne ... [more ▼]

Emergence of West Nile Virus was recently recorded in several European countries, which can lead to severe health problems in horse populations. Europe is also at risk of introduction of mosquito-borne equine alphavirus from Americas. Prevention of these arboviruses requires a clear understanding of transmission cycles, especially their vectors. To characterize mosquito fauna, their ecology and identify potential vectors of equine arboviruses in Belgium, entomological surveys of six equestrian farms located in the Wolloon Region were conducted during 2011–2012. The harvest of mosquitoes was based on larval sampling (272 samples from 111 breeding sites) and monthly adults trapping (CO2-baited traps, Mosquito Magnet Liberty Plus). Among 51,493 larvae and 319 adult mosquitoes collected, morphological identification showed the presence of 11 species: Anopheles claviger (Meigen), An. maculipennis s.l. (Meigen), An. plumbeus (Stephens), Culex hortensis (Ficalbi), Cx. territans (Walker), Cx. pipiens s.l. L., Cx. torrentium (Martini), Coquillettidia richiardii (Ficalbi), Culiseta annulata (Schrank), Aedes cantans (Meigen), Ae. geniculatus (Olivier). Molecular identification of Cx. pipiens species complex allowed the detection of three molecular forms, Pipiens (92.3%), Molestus (4.6%) and Hybrid (3.1%). Larvae of Cx. pipiens sl and Cx. torrentium were omnipresent and the most abundant species. Water troughs, ponds and slurry (liquid manure) were the most favorable breeding sites of mosquito larvae. Based upon behavior and ecology of the identified mosquito species, Studied Belgian equestrian farms seem to provide a suitable environment and breeding sites for the proliferation of potential vectors of arboviruses and those being a real nuisance problem for horses and neighboring inhabitants. [less ▲]

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See detailEffects of Plant Defense Signal Molecules Jasmonic Acid and Salicylic Acid on the Expression of Detoxification Enzyme Glutathione S-transferases and Salivary Protein C002 in Myzus persicae
ZHANG, Yong; FAN, Jia; ZHAO, XingYan et al

in SCIENTIA SINICA Vitae (2016), 46(5), 665-672

Jasmonic acid (JA) and salicylic acid (SA) are important phytohormones for activating plant defense responses when plants suffer from mechanical damage or pest infestation. In response to plant defense ... [more ▼]

Jasmonic acid (JA) and salicylic acid (SA) are important phytohormones for activating plant defense responses when plants suffer from mechanical damage or pest infestation. In response to plant defense responses, insects usually increase the detoxification enzyme activity or secrete some saliva proteins into plants to modulate host cell processes to promote their adaptation. In this study, we used real-time qPCR to detect the relative gene expression of detoxification enzyme named glutathione S-transferases (sigma GST) and salivary gland-specific protein C002 in Myzus persicae after feeding with 5mM JA or 10mM SA through artificial diet. The results showed that the relative expression of sigma GST and C002 in M. persicae increased significantly after JA and SA treatments. The results revealed that M. persicae can use JA and SA as cues to up-regulate gene expression of related detoxification enzyme and saliva protein. Our results provided new insights into the research on the mechanism of M. persicae adaptation to host plant resistance. [less ▲]

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See detailBacteria may contribute to distant species recognition in ant–aphid mutualistic relationships
Fischer, Christophe ULg; Detrain, Claire; Thonart, Philippe ULg et al

in Insect Science (2016)

Mutualistic interactions between ant and aphid species have been the subject of considerable historical and contemporary investigations, the primary benefits being cleaning and protection for the aphids ... [more ▼]

Mutualistic interactions between ant and aphid species have been the subject of considerable historical and contemporary investigations, the primary benefits being cleaning and protection for the aphids and carbohydrate-rich honeydew for the ants. Questions remained, however, as to the volatile semiochemical factor influencing this relationship. A recent study highlighted the role of bacterial honeydew volatile compounds in ant attraction. Here, ant’s ability to distantly discriminate two aphid species was investigated based on bacterial honeydew semiochemicals emissions using a two-way olfactometer. Both the mutualistic black bean aphid (Aphis fabae L.) and the non-myrmecophilous pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum Harris) were found to be attractive for the black garden ant (Lasius niger L.). The level of attraction was similar in both assays (control versus one of the aphid species). However, when given a choice between these two aphid species, ants showed a significant preference for Aphis fabae. Honeydew volatiles, mostly from bacterial origins, are known to be a key element in ant attraction. Using the same olfactometry protocol, the relative attractiveness of volatiles emitted by honeydews collected from each aphid species and by bacteria isolated from each honeydew was in investigated. Again, ants significantly preferred volatiles released by Aphis fabae honeydew and bacteria. This information suggests that microbial honeydew volatiles enable ants to distantly discriminate aphid species. These results emphasize the importance of investigating the presence and potential effects of microbes in insect symbioses. [less ▲]

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See detailWheat (Triticum aestivum L.)-based intercropping systems for biological pest control: a review
Chevalier Mendes Lopes, Thomas ULg; Hatt, Séverin ULg; Xu, Qinxuan et al

in Pest Management Science (2016), 72

BACKGROUND: Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the most cultivated crops in temperate climates. As its pests are mainly controlled with insecticides which are harmful to the environment and human ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the most cultivated crops in temperate climates. As its pests are mainly controlled with insecticides which are harmful to the environment and human health, alternative practices such as intercropping have been studied for their potential to promote biological control. Based on the published literature, this study aimed to review the effect of wheat-based intercropping systems on insect pests and their natural enemies. RESULTS: Fifty original research papers were obtained from a systematic search of the peer-reviewed literature. Results from a vote-counting analysis indicated that, in the majority of studies, pest abundance was significantly reduced in intercropping systems compared with pure stands. However, the occurrence of their natural enemies as well as predation and parasitism rates were not significantly increased. The country where the studies took place, the type of intercropping, and the crop that was studied in the association had significant effects on these results. CONCLUSION: These findings show that intercropping is a viable practice to decrease insecticide use in wheat production systems. Nevertheless, other practices could be combined with intercropping to favour natural enemies and enhance pest control. [less ▲]

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See detailImpact des termites sur la composition des sols au plateau des Batékés , République Démocratique du Congo
Kifukieto, Carmel; Colinet, Gilles ULg; Milau, Fils et al

in Afrique science (2016), 12

La teneur en argile, ainsi que l’influence de sa variation sur d’autres caractéristiques agro-pédologiques d’un sol sableux a été mesurée dans les termitières et leurs sols voisins, au plateau des Batéké ... [more ▼]

La teneur en argile, ainsi que l’influence de sa variation sur d’autres caractéristiques agro-pédologiques d’un sol sableux a été mesurée dans les termitières et leurs sols voisins, au plateau des Batéké (RDC). Une approche analysant une jachère de 2 ans, une savane arbustive non anthropisée, une savane herbeuse parcourue par des feux de brousse annuels et une savane herbeuse ayant subi un dessouchement pré-culture a été développée. D’une part, un important enrichissement en argile des termitières comparées au sol voisin et d’autre part l’importance de l’activité des Cubitermes par rapport aux Macrotermes ont été déterminé. En effet, sept tonnes de terre correspondant à 0,5 mm d’épaisseur ont été mobilisés par les termites Cubitermes. L’impact des termites sur les propriétés pédologiques des sols est discuté en relation avec la fertilité et les productions végétales de cette région. [less ▲]

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See detailIdentification of Alpha amylase as a new allergen of mealworm in professionally exposed patients
Debaugnies, F; Francis, Frédéric ULg; delporte, C et al

Conference (2016)

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See detailIn vitro evaluation of fermentation characteristics of two types of insects as potential novel protein feeds for pigs
POELAERT, Christine ULg; Beckers, Yves ULg; Despret, Xavier et al

in Journal of Animal Science (2016), 94(7S3), 198-201

Novel protein sources such as insects are suggested for pig nutrition. Protein availability might be impacted by the nature of the insect and by the thermal treatment applied to sanitize this ingredient ... [more ▼]

Novel protein sources such as insects are suggested for pig nutrition. Protein availability might be impacted by the nature of the insect and by the thermal treatment applied to sanitize this ingredient. Their influence on protein availability and colonic fermentation is unknown. Plant proteins (beans, lentils, peas, and soybean, raw and vapor cooked) were compared to adult house crickets (Acheta domesticus) and mealworm larvae (Tenebrio molitor) that had been autoclaved, oven cooked (150 and 200°C), or used raw. Ingredients were run in an in vitro model of the pig gastrointestinal tract combining enzymes to simulate digestion in the stomach and the small intestine and subsequent fermentation by fecal microbes to simulate hindgut fermentation. In vitro crude protein disappearance (IVCPD) of insects decreased with oven cooking at 150°C or autoclaving (P < 0.05) while that of plants was unaffected (P > 0.05), except for soybean. IVCPD of raw mealworms (0.726) equaled that of the best plants (0.725 to 0.763) while crickets were less digestible (P < 0.01). Consequences on fermentation metabolites were lower propionate (P < 0.01) and branched-chain fatty acids (BCFA; P < 0.05) molar ratio in raw insects against oven-cooked or autoclaved insects. Both insect sources displayed greater BCFA (P < 0.01) and lower propionate (P < 0.01) than plants. Crickets produced 50% as much BCFA as mealworms (P < 0.01). In conclusion, feeding insect-sourced protein requires a careful choice of the species as well as the thermal treatment to avoid possible detrimental consequences on digestibility and intestinal health in pigs. [less ▲]

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See detailConsommation d’insectes : des arguments santé à l’acceptation et au changement de comportement alimentaire
Caparros Megido, Rudy ULg; Alabi, Taofic ULg; Haubruge, Eric ULg et al

in Le Gall, Philippe; Motte-Florac, Elisabeth (Eds.) Savoureux insectes De l’aliment traditionnel à l’innovation gastronomique (2016)

Encore un petit Choco-croque de grillons ou un Crumble aux vers de farine ? Délicieuses gourmandises ! Comment ne pas se lancer dans cette découverte gastronomique quand les insectes sont envisagés comme ... [more ▼]

Encore un petit Choco-croque de grillons ou un Crumble aux vers de farine ? Délicieuses gourmandises ! Comment ne pas se lancer dans cette découverte gastronomique quand les insectes sont envisagés comme source majeure de protéines animales pour les décennies à venir ? Le sujet est à la mode mais exige d’être abordé sans tomber dans la raillerie, le sensationnalisme ou les raccourcis approximatifs et discutables. C’est pourquoi ce livre dresse une large fresque de la façon dont des insectes ont été consommés par l’homme, depuis nos plus lointains ancêtres jusqu’à l’époque contemporaine, et envisage leur contribution à la sécurité alimentaire de la population mondiale pour le XXIe siècle. De nombreux spécialistes apportent, à travers des exemples pris sur tous les continents, des réponses simples et claires mais aussi précises et rigoureuses aux interrogations que soulève la consommation d’insectes. Tous les insectes peuvent-ils être consommés ? Qui en mange d ans le monde ? Quel goût ont-ils ? Lesquels sont comestibles ? Comment faut-il les préparer, les conserver, les accommoder ? Faut-il les manger tout entiers ? Existe-t-il des produits alimentaires industriels qui en contiennent ? En manger n’est-il pas dangereux pour la santé ? Leur récolte ne met-elle pas en péril l’équilibre des écosystèmes ? Que penser de leur élevage ? [less ▲]

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See detailCurrent status of edible insect industry and research in Europe with a particular focus on the Belgian case
Caparros Megido, Rudy ULg; Alabi, Taofic ULg; Haubruge, Eric ULg et al

Conference (2016)

Since the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) announcement, in 2013, of an edible insect program, entomophagy (i.e. the consumption of edible insects) is actually considered as a ... [more ▼]

Since the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) announcement, in 2013, of an edible insect program, entomophagy (i.e. the consumption of edible insects) is actually considered as a future ecological alternative to protein supply in Europe. However, success in introducing entomophagy in Western societies depends on factors governing current legislation adaptation and consumers’ attitudes towards insect-based products. Firstly, current legislative brake for the development of insect industry and future adaptation of this legislation will be explained and discussed. As an example, few edible insect species are allowed in Europe (at least 10 species and only in Belgium) and among them, some insects are rather intended for human consumption, as Acheta domestica (L. 1758), while others are more targeted for feed since they are reared on decaying organic matter, such as Hermetia illucens (L. 1758) but are still not allowed. Secondly, a quick presentation of the actual European research projects on edible insects will be presented to show the real interest for this new protein source in Europe. Thirdly, the actual growing business of edible insect will be presented as despite the lack of clear legislative frameworks before 2017, insect breading and insect processing companies are created every month and try to ride the wave of edible insects. Finally, a new consumer acceptance study from our laboratory will be presented, as highlighted before, consumer acceptance is big concern for edible insect business in Europe. Effectively, edible insect is very unconventional in Europe and new insect-based products must be deeply studied before any relying on the market. [less ▲]

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See detailHow to convince Westerners to eat insects?
Caparros Megido, Rudy ULg; Alabi, Taofic ULg; Haubruge, Eric ULg et al

Conference (2016)

Edible insects are actually fashionable in Westerners aperitif. This marketing strategy allows producers to sell dried insects at high prices but without a sustainable establishment on the market. For a ... [more ▼]

Edible insects are actually fashionable in Westerners aperitif. This marketing strategy allows producers to sell dried insects at high prices but without a sustainable establishment on the market. For a better position on the marketplace, several studies suggest integrating insects in an invisible way in ready-to-eat preparations. This talk present our past studies on the subject and a new one, using entomophagy perception questionnaires and hedonic scales, that compared the sensory-liking of dried mealworms and homemade pasta enriched with 10% of mealworms. Unsurprisingly, 90% of the participants preferred mealworms pasta. Nevertheless, it has been shown that women who have already eaten insects gave higher ratings to the two preparations’ taste while men responded similarly regardless their previous experience. It was also found a correlation between the overall liking evaluation, closely related to the odor evaluation, and the respondents’ personality. Effectively, people whom self-characterized them as suspicious gave low ratings to the two preparations; curious, adventurous and down-to-earth people intermediately rated preparations while ambitious people highly rated them. This study confirms the possible insect integration by proposing powdered insects in ready-to-eat preparations. A particular attention to products’ odor must be done, as suspicious people seem to rely on this organoleptic property to assess their global evaluation of insects’ products. Finally, women taste evaluation strengthened the idea that women are more neophobic than men as only women with previous experiences with insects gave high ratings to the preparations. As key contributors in food shopping decisions, women could be targeted by specific insect tasting sessions correlated with healthy or sustainable arguments to support entomophagy. [less ▲]

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See detailGrasshoppers as a food source? A review
Paul, Aman ULg; Frederich, Michel ULg; Uyttenbroeck, Roel ULg et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment (2016), 20(AgricultureIsLife), 337-352

Description of the subject. Current trends suggest an increasing future demand for conventional meats, which indicates a strong need to shift this dependency to other alternative protein sources such as ... [more ▼]

Description of the subject. Current trends suggest an increasing future demand for conventional meats, which indicates a strong need to shift this dependency to other alternative protein sources such as insects. Literature. From a nutritional point of view, of all the insects consumed globally, grasshoppers are particularly important as a human food. Data from the literature regarding the nutrient composition, amino acid profile, fatty acid profile, mineral composition and vitamin content of grasshoppers as reviewed in this paper, suggest that a number of grasshopper species are a good source of nutrients. It also highlights some of the health related aspects that might arise from the consumption of grasshoppers, mostly linked to agricultural practices and the allergic response of sensitive individuals. The paper also summarizes some religious, social and economic factors that are associated with grasshopper consumption. Conclusions. The success of introducing grasshoppers as a novel food in western countries depends on changes in consumer attitudes. It would be interesting to develop food products derived from grasshoppers in a form acceptable to consumers. Furthermore, it is important to explore the food potential of some grasshopper species native to western countries and to develop their rearing methodologies to enhance availability. [less ▲]

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See detailPros and cons of flowers strips for farmers. A review
Uyttenbroeck, Roel ULg; Hatt, Séverin ULg; Paul, Aman ULg et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment (2016), 20(s1), 225-235

Description of the subject. To counteract environmental problems due to agricultural intensification, European farmers can apply agri-environmental schemes in their fields. Flower strips are one example ... [more ▼]

Description of the subject. To counteract environmental problems due to agricultural intensification, European farmers can apply agri-environmental schemes in their fields. Flower strips are one example of these schemes, with the aim of supporting biodiversity, leading to an increase in “useful” species groups such as pollinators for crop pollination and natural enemies for pest control. However, to our knowledge, a complete appraisal of the pros and cons of flower strips, from a farmer’s point of view, does not yet exist. It is proposed that better and more complete information could increase the adoption and implementation of such agri-environmental schemes. Objectives. This study aims 1) to assess the pros and cons of flower strips, from a farmer’s point of view, and 2) to highlight the knowledge gaps that exist in the scientific literature, for the different types of pros and cons. Method. We listed the different components of the appraisal of pros and cons and conducted a systematic screening of the scientific literature on flower strips and these components. Results. The largest part of the 31 selected studies was concerning agronomical and ecological processes, such as pollination and animal pest control. Most of them indicated positive effects of flower strips. For many components of the appraisal, mostly economic and social ones, few or no studies were found. Conclusions. While a positive balance of pros and cons, from a farmer’s point of view, came from our literature screening, large research gaps still remain and more research is required, especially in the economic and social components of the evaluation. [less ▲]

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See detailTowards sustainable food systems: the concept of agroecology and how it questions current research practices. A review
Hatt, Séverin ULg; Artru, Sidonie ULg; Brédart, David ULg et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment (2016), 20(Special issue 1), 215-224

Introduction. Multiple environmental and socio-economic indicators show that our current agriculture and the organization of the food system need to be revised. Agroecology has been proposed as a ... [more ▼]

Introduction. Multiple environmental and socio-economic indicators show that our current agriculture and the organization of the food system need to be revised. Agroecology has been proposed as a promising concept for achieving greater sustainability. This paper offers an overview and discussion of the concept based on existing literature and case studies, and explores the way it questions our current research approaches and education paradigms. Literature. In order to improve the sustainability of agriculture, the use of external and chemical inputs needs to be minimized. Agroecological farming practices seek to optimize ecological processes, thus minimizing the need for external inputs by providing an array of ecosystem services. Implementing such practices challenges the current structure of the food system, which has been criticized for its lack of social relevance and economic viability. An agroecological approach includes all stakeholders, from field to fork, in the discussion, design and development of future food systems. This inclusion of various disciplines and stakeholders raises issues about scientists and their research practices, as well as about the education of the next generation of scientists. Conclusions. Agroecology is based on the concept that agricultural practices and food systems cannot be dissociated because they belong to the same natural and socio-economic context. Clearly, agroecology is not a silver-bullet, but its principles can serve as avenues for rethinking the current approaches towards achieving greater sustainability. Adapting research approaches in line with indicators that promote inter- and transdisciplinary research is essential if progress is to be made. [less ▲]

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See detailSynthèse bibliographique sur le comportement de recherche de l’hôte chez la punaise de lit (Cimex lectularius) et applications dans le cadre de la lutte intégrée
Legrand, Pauline ULg; Verheggen, François ULg; Haubruge, Eric ULg et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment (2016), 20(2),

This study analyzes host-seeking behavior in the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, paying particular attention to human stimuli involved in this orientation process. The potential applications in ... [more ▼]

This study analyzes host-seeking behavior in the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, paying particular attention to human stimuli involved in this orientation process. The potential applications in integrated pest management are discussed. The common bed bug is an obligate hematophagous that has been associated with humans for millennia. When searching for food, this insect relies for orientation on signals produced by its hosts. Carbon dioxide emitted by human respiration is more attractive to bugs than body heat. The response of bed bugs to other volatile organic compounds released by the human body has been tested, but their perception and behavioral impact are not always studied together, and some discrepancies occasionally appear. Currently, carbon dioxide is the most efficient lure for bed bugs, although real human bait is more attractive. Some home-made traps baited with dry ice are more efficient than other traps using complicated chemical blends. Dry ice seems to be more efficient as a lure than complex chemical blends, and it can be used in simple traps. Our knowledge of host-seeking behavior in bed bugs is still partial and new questions are constantly arising. Further efforts in the study of the chemical ecology of this process are needed in order to improve the management of this pest. The control of bed bugs in European countries appears to be a major challenge for the years to come. [less ▲]

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See detailContribution à l’écologie des coléoptères coprophiles et coprophages en Belgique : diversité spécifique, préférences stercorales et phénologie
Bebermans, Julien ULg; Fagot, Jean ULg; Francis, Frédéric ULg

in Entomologie Faunistique = Faunistic Entomology (2016), 69

In a study performed from September to October 2014, coprophagous and coprophilic beetle of cattle and horse dung were observed. This research focused on Scarabaeoidea super-family and Staphylinidae ... [more ▼]

In a study performed from September to October 2014, coprophagous and coprophilic beetle of cattle and horse dung were observed. This research focused on Scarabaeoidea super-family and Staphylinidae family. Totally, 6245 individuals, belonging to 15 coprophagous scarabs species and 73 staphylinids species were identified. Insects have been captured using a trap weekly visited. Three geographic regions were compared: Pays de Herve, Hesbaye and Pays Brabançon with one trapping site by region, respectively Julémont, Waremme and Grez-Doiceau. One of the objectives was to observe the insects population diversity according to dung type and identify insect preference related to a specific type of dung. The goal was to observe if the communities change between regions. The population dynamics during the ageing of dung has also been considered. Several species showed a significant preference for one of the two kind of feces, even if there are no strict specialist insects. Also, Julémont appeared as being the most diversified site regarding staphylinds, while Grez-Doiceau seemed to be the most suitable place concerning scarabs. Finally, insects were found to invade very quickly the freshly dropped dung, while they seem less attracted after a few days. [less ▲]

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See detailEarthworms Eisenia fetida affect the uptake of heavy metals by plants Vicia faba and Zea mays in metal-contaminated soils
Lemtiri, Aboulkacem ULg; Liénard, Amandine ULg; Alabi, Taofic ULg et al

in Applied Soil Ecology (2016), 104

Earthworms increase the availability of heavy metals in some situations and aid in maintaining the structure and quality of soil. The introduction of earthworms into metal-contaminated soils has been ... [more ▼]

Earthworms increase the availability of heavy metals in some situations and aid in maintaining the structure and quality of soil. The introduction of earthworms into metal-contaminated soils has been suggested as an aid for phytoremediation processes. In Wallonia, Belgium, a century of industrial metallurgic activities has led to the substantial pollution of soils by heavy metals, including copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd), due to atmospheric dusts. Two plant species, Vicia faba and Zea mays, and earthworms (Eisenia fetida) (Savigny, 1826) were exposed to different concentrations of long-term-contaminated soils for 42 days. The soil samples, which were collected from the land surrounding a former Zn-Pb ore-treatment plant, exhibited different levels of heavy metals. Our aim was to evaluate the role of earthworms E. fetida on the availability of metals in soils and their effects on metal uptake by V. faba and Z. mays plants at different soil concentrations. The results suggest that earthworms and plants modified the availability of metals in contaminated soils after 42 days of exposure. Earthworm life-cycle parameters were affected by metal contamination and/or the addition of plants; cocoon production and weight were more responsive to adverse conditions than earthworm survival or weight change. The concentrations of Pb and Cd in earthworm tissues decreased in the presence of plants. Results showed that metal accumulation in plants depended on the metal element considered and the presence of earthworms. However, the presence of earthworms did not change the concentrations of metals in plants, except for Cd. In the presence or absence of earthworms, V. faba accumulated higher concentrations of Cu and Zn compared with Z. mays, which accumulated higher concentrations of Cd. These findings have revealed that earthworm activities can modify the availability of heavy metals for uptake by plants in contaminated soils. Moreover, the study results show that the ecological context of phytoremediation should be broadened by considering earthworm-plant-soil interaction, which influence both the health of the plant and the uptake of heavy metals by plants. [less ▲]

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