Bulletin of Entomological Research

Research Paper

Rapid method for the detection of storage mites in cereals: feasibility of an ELISA based approach

J.A. Dunna1 c1, B.B. Thinda1, C. Danksa1 and J. Chambersa1

a1 Central Science Laboratory, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Sand Hutton, York, Y041 1LZ, UK


This paper describes the development of rapid immunodiagnostic tests for the detection of storage mite infestations in cereals and cereal products. The study's first phase (proof of concept) involved the production of a species-specific enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) for the flour mite, Acarus siro (L.), a major pest of stored commodities. The specificity of this new assay was assessed against key stored product contaminants (13 species of mites of which three were predatory, five species of insects and five species of fungi) in the presence and absence of grain. The assay was species-specific (no cross-reactivity to other storage contaminants) and was unaffected by the presence of cereal antigens in the extract. In the study's second phase, species- and genera-specific ELISAs were developed for a range of key storage mite pests: the cosmopolitan food mite (Lepidoglyphus destructor), the grocers' itch mite (Glycyphagus domesticus), the grainstack mite (Tyrophagus longior), mites of the Tyrophagus and Glycyphagus generas, and all storage mites. All tests were demonstrably specific to target species or genera, with no cross-reactions observed to other storage pest contaminants or cereals. The final, validation phase, involved a comparative assessment of the species-specific A. siro and the genus-specific Tyrophagus ELISAs with the flotation technique using laboratory and field samples. Both ELISAs were quantitative (0–30 mites per 10 g wheat) and produced good comparative data with the flotation technique (A. siro r2=0.91, Tyrophagus spp. r2=0.99).

(Accepted October 15 2007)


c1 Author for correspondence Fax: +44 1904 462 111 E-mail: j.dunn@csl.gov.uk