A potential contamination error associated with insect protein mark-capture data

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Various types of protein-spray solutions have proven effective for externally tagging arthropods for mark-release-recapture and mark-capture type dispersal research. However, there is concern that certain standardized arthropod collection methods, such as sweep netting, might lead to high incidences of protein transfer from field-marked to unmarked arthropods during sample collection and sample handling. Native arthropods were collected in sweep nets from a field of alfalfa, Medicago sativa L. (Fabaceae). The nets also contained 10 egg white-, 10 bovine milk-, 10 soy milk-, and 10 water (control)-marked Hippodamia convergens Guérin-Méneville (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) that were visually distinguishable by a yellow, white, green, and blue dot, respectively. The plant debris and arthropods from each sweep net collection were then placed into either a paper or a plastic bag and frozen for storage. The contents of each sweep net sample were thawed and the color-coded H. convergens and field-collected arthropods were examined for the presence of each protein by an egg white (albumin), bovine milk (casein), and soy milk (soy trypsin) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Data revealed that only 0.67, 0.81, and 0% of the field-collected unmarked arthropods acquired an egg white, bovine milk, and soy milk mark, respectively. ELISA results also showed that all the egg white-marked H. convergens retained their mark, but 22.1% of the bovine milk-marked and 5.1% of the soy milk-marked H. convergens (color-coded beetles) lost their mark during the collection and sample handling processes.

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