Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Characterization of stink bug saliva proteins opens door to controlling pests

27.02.2014

Brown marmorated stink bugs cause millions of dollars in crop losses across the United States because of the damage their saliva does to plant tissues. Researchers at Penn State have developed methods to extract the insect saliva and identify the major protein components, which could lead to new pest control approaches.

"Until now, essentially nothing was known about the composition of stink bug saliva, which is surprising given the importance of these insects as pests and the fact that their saliva is the primary cause of feeding injury to plants and crop losses," said Gary Felton, professor and head of the Department of Entomology. "Other than using synthetic pesticides, there have been few alternative approaches to controlling these pests. By identifying the major protein components of saliva, it now may be possible to target the specific factors in saliva that are essential for their feeding and, therefore, design new approaches for controlling stink bugs."


Brown marmorated stink bugs have caused millions in crop losses across the United States as a result of the damage their saliva does to plant tissues during feeding. Researchers at Penn State have developed methods for extracting the saliva of these insects and have identified the major protein components of this saliva.

Credit: Nick Sloff, Penn State

The team reported its results in today's (Feb. 26) issue of PLOS ONE.

According to Felton, stink bugs produce two types of saliva that are required for successful feeding. Watery saliva helps stink bugs to digest their food. Sheath saliva surrounds stink bugs' mouthparts and hardens to prevent spillage of sap during feeding. The hardened "sheath" remains attached to the plant when the insect is finished feeding.

"Unlike a chewing insect, which causes damage by removing plant tissue, stink bugs pierce plant tissue and suck nutrients from the plant," said Michelle Peiffer, research support assistant. "During this process, stink bugs also deposit saliva onto the plant. The interaction between this saliva and the plant is what causes the cosmetic and physiological changes that make crops unmarketable."

To extract the two types of saliva from brown marmorated stink bugs, Felton and Peiffer first collected adult bugs from homes and fields in central Pennsylvania and maintained them in their laboratory.

The researchers chilled the insects on ice. As the insects returned to room temperature, their watery saliva was secreted from the tips of their beaks. The team collected this saliva, processed it and analyzed it for protein content.

To collect sheath saliva, the scientists placed organic grape tomatoes in the cages. After two days of stink bug feeding, they removed the tomatoes from the cages and used forceps to extract the hardened sheaths from the surfaces of the tomatoes. They then processed and analyzed the sheaths for protein content.

"We found that the watery saliva and the sheath saliva have distinct protein profiles," Felton said. "In other words, we did not find any proteins in common between the two."

Consistent with a role in digestion, the team found that watery saliva contains several digestive proteins, including amylases, proteases and an esterase.

In the sheath saliva, the researchers found peroxidase, suggesting that this protein could be involved in sheath formation. In addition, they found a large number of proteins from tomato.

"These results reveal that the protein composition of the sheath is a mixture of insect- and plant-derived proteins," Felton said. "We used extraordinary precaution to avoid disrupting tomato tissues during the collection of the sheaths, so we do not believe that the composition of tomato proteins in the sheath material is a spurious artifact of our collection methods, but rather it represents the natural coalescing of insect- and plant-derived proteins that occurs during formation of the sheath and subsequent feeding. These initial findings suggest that sheath saliva may elicit a plant self-protection response."

According to the scientists, the methods they developed to extract the saliva and to analyze the proteins should be generally applicable for any species of stink bug.

In the future, the team plans to use a genetic approach to test the function of individual proteins in the saliva to determine their function and essentiality to the feeding process.

"By understanding the specific details of feeding and the damage it causes, researchers can begin to develop targeted control methods for these pests," Peiffer said. 

Support for this research was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture specifically, the Coordinated Agricultural Project of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative. The Coordinated Agricultural Project includes more than 50 researchers from 10 institutions and is led by Tracy Leskey of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

A'ndrea Elyse Messer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Crop advances grow with protection
28.04.2016 | American Society of Agronomy

nachricht Can urban gardeners benefit ecosystems while keeping food traditions alive?
06.04.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nuclear Pores Captured on Film

Using an ultra fast-scanning atomic force microscope, a team of researchers from the University of Basel has filmed “living” nuclear pore complexes at work for the first time. Nuclear pores are molecular machines that control the traffic entering or exiting the cell nucleus. In their article published in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers explain how the passage of unwanted molecules is prevented by rapidly moving molecular “tentacles” inside the pore.

Using high-speed AFM, Roderick Lim, Argovia Professor at the Biozentrum and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute of the University of Basel, has not only directly...

Im Focus: 2+1 is Not Always 3 - In the microworld unity is not always strength

If a person pushes a broken-down car alone, there is a certain effect. If another person helps, the result is the sum of their efforts. If two micro-particles are pushing another microparticle, however, the resulting effect may not necessarily be the sum their efforts. A recent study published in Nature Communications, measured this odd effect that scientists call “many body.”

In the microscopic world, where the modern miniaturized machines at the new frontiers of technology operate, as long as we are in the presence of two...

Im Focus: Tiny microbots that can clean up water

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.

Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...

Im Focus: ORNL researchers discover new state of water molecule

Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.

In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...

Im Focus: Bionic Lightweight Design researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute at Hannover Messe 2016

Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid

Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

The “AC21 International Forum 2016” is About to Begin

27.04.2016 | Event News

Soft switching combines efficiency and improved electro-magnetic compatibility

15.04.2016 | Event News

Grid-Supportive Buildings Give Boost to Renewable Energy Integration

12.04.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New fabrication and thermo-optical tuning of whispering gallery microlasers

04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Introducing the disposable laser

04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

A new vortex identification method for 3-D complex flow

04.05.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>