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 Robotic weeders: to a farm near you?
10.01.2018 | American Society of Agronomy

nachricht Alfalfa loss? Annual ryegrass is a win
03.01.2018 | American Society of Agronomy

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: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

White graphene makes ceramics multifunctional

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Breaking bad metals with neutrons

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

ISFH-CalTeC is “designated test centre” for the confirmation of solar cell world records

16.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>