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22 January 2019 It's Gut Check Time! A Universal Food Immunomarking Technique for Studying Arthropod Feeding Activities
James R. Hagler
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The analysis of arthropod feeding activity is often determined by using species-specific postmortem gut content polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Such mono-specific assays require time, resources, and technical expertise to develop for the food item (usually a pest insect species) that is the target of the investigation. A generic predator gut analysis method was described over a quarter of a century ago that does not require the development of a species-specific gut assay. This generic method remained in relative obscurity until about a decade ago. Recently, it has been used to study a wide range of arthropod feeding activities, such as carnivory, herbivory, scavenging, and other feeding interactions. For this review, I have coined this method as the universal food immunomarking technique (UFIT). The UFIT consists of tagging food items (i.e., prey, foliage, carrion, etc.) with a specific protein. In turn, the gut contents of foraging arthropods are examined for the presence of protein-marked food items by a standardized protein-specific sandwich ELISA. In this article, I give examples of the benefits of the UFIT gut assay approach over prey-specific gut assay approaches and tips on conducting a successful UFIT experiment, and provide examples of how it has been adapted to study a wide variety of arthropod feeding behaviors. My goal is to make researchers aware of another valuable tool in the gut analysis toolbox.

Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America 2019. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.
James R. Hagler "It's Gut Check Time! A Universal Food Immunomarking Technique for Studying Arthropod Feeding Activities," Annals of the Entomological Society of America 112(3), 211-219, (22 January 2019).
Received: 20 August 2018; Accepted: 20 September 2018; Published: 22 January 2019

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