Stink bug saliva sheds light on how it damages plants

02/27/2014 03:12:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

brown marmorated stink bugCourtesy Penn State UniversityBrown marmorated stink bugs produce two types of saliva.Spit happens. But until recently researchers didn't know much about the saliva from brown marmorated stink bugs and how it caused corp damage.

A group of Penn State University scientists led by entomology professor Gary Felton, have identified major protein components of BMSB saliva, according to a news release.

In doing so, they may have opened the door to targeting specific factors in saliva that are essential for bug feeding and possible new control methods.

Their findings were published in the Feb. 26 issue of the online journal, PLOS ONE.

Stink bugs actually produce two types of saliva required to feed successfully.

Watery saliva helps the bug digest food.

Sheath saliva surrounds stunk bugs' mouth parts and hardens to prevent spillage of sap during feeding. This hardened sheath remains attached to the plant after feeding.

During feeding, stink bugs also deposit saliva on the plant.

Interaction between the saliva and plant issue is what causes cosmetic and physiological changes that make crops unmarketable.

The researchers collected saliva from stinkbugs and analyzed it for different components.

They found distinct proteins in the two different saliva forms but none were common to both.

The methods used to extract saliva and analyze the proteins can be applied to other stink bug species.



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