Navigation Links
Wheat can't stop Hessian flies, so scientists find reinforcements

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Wheat's genetic resistance to Hessian flies has been failing, but a group of Purdue University and U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists believe that other plants may soon be able to come to the rescue.

The Purdue and USDA research team developed a method to test toxins from other plants on Hessian fly larvae. The test simulates the effect of a transgenic plant without the lengthy and costly procedures necessary to actually create those plants.

"For years, people have tried to develop a bioassay, but that hadn't happened until now," said Richard Shukle, a research scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service Crop Production and Pest Control Research Unit working in Purdue Entomology, whose findings were published in the Journal of Insect Physiology.

Shukle said the 33 genes known to give wheat resistance to Hessian fly attacks have been failing, causing scientists to develop methods to stack those genes together as a defense. But another solution could include adding other plants' toxins to wheat to bolster its defenses.

The problem has been with the unique way in which Hessian fly larvae attack and feed off wheat. The larvae secrete a substance onto the plants that creates a sort of wound on the plant tissue, opening it up for the larvae to feed on.

Toxins can be tested on other pests by adding those toxins to a plant-based artificial diet and feeding them to the insects. But Hessian fly larvae won't take the bait, meaning that until now the only way to test poisons from other plants was to create lines of transgenic wheat and feed them to the flies.

"This feeding assay is significant. This gives us a way to test these toxins," said Christie Williams, a co-author of the findings and a research scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service Crop Production and Pest Control Research Unit working in Purdue Entomology. "A preliminary chemical assay might give us promising results. But then you could go to all the trouble of making a transgenic plant based on that chemical test and have it not work."

To get the toxins into the fly larvae, the scientists allowed Hessian flies to lay eggs on the leaves of seedling wheat plants. When the eggs hatched, the plants were taken from the soil, their roots cleaned and trimmed, and then replanted as hydroponics with the toxic proteins added to the plants' water.

"The plant is just acting like a big straw taking up the toxins," Williams said. "It's just like putting a carnation into a cup of colored water and watching the flower change colors."

When the fly larvae attacked and fed as usual, they were also ingesting the toxins that were taken up through the water.

"We knew they would feed on the plant," said Subhashree Subramanyam, a Purdue agronomy research associate. "So we used the plant as the translocation medium."

Protein immunoblot detection tests, which use antibodies to detect the presence of a particular protein, showed that the larvae had ingested the toxins added to the water.

The team tested nine lectins ╨ antinutrient proteins that disrupt digestive function. In particular, Hessian fly larvae responded to snowdrop lectin, which comes from snowdrop bulbs, a flowering plant.

Larvae that ingested the snowdrop lectin developed only half as fast as the control larvae. There was also evidence of disruption of the microvilli ╨ fingerlike extensions in the midgut that aid in nutrient uptake.

"It is possible that snowdrop lectin, by itself, could give wheat better resistance to the Hessian fly," Shukle said.

The scientists plan to have a transgenic version of the wheat developed for further testing. The USDA funded their work.


Contact: Brian Wallheimer
Purdue University

Related biology news :

1. Stem rust-resistant wheat landraces identified
2. Scab resistance in durum wheat
3. Plant pathologist finding Kansas wheat fields a molecular battleground this season
4. Genome offers clue to functions of destructive wheat fungus
5. Genome sequence could reveal Achilles heels of important wheat disease
6. Sport doctors say non-alcoholic wheat beer boosts athletes health
7. USDA researchers, collaborators sequence genomes of fungi that threaten wheat, poplars
8. $40 million helps Cornell lead global battle against wheat pathogen that threatens food security
9. Examining climate change effects on wheat
10. Wheat resistance genes failing, new approach needed to stop flies
11. New Anglo-Swiss research questions impact of GM wheat on insects
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Wheat can't stop Hessian flies, so scientists find reinforcements
(Date:10/29/2015)...   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical ... research, is pleased to announce that it has been ... one of only three finalists for a 2015 ... Growing" category. The Tekne Awards honor Minnesota ... innovation and leadership. iMedNet™ eClinical ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015 Daon, a ... that it has released a new version of its ... in North America have already ... v4.0 also includes a FIDO UAF certified server ... already preparing to activate FIDO features. These customers include ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  Connected health pioneer, ... the explosion of technology-enabled health and wellness, and the ... book, The Internet of Healthy Things ... or smartphones even existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected ... health care delivery, moving care from the hospital or ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... Jose, CA (PRWEB) , ... ... ... Content Intelligence Company, today announced tighter software integration with MarkLogic, the Enterprise ... where organizations maximize information to drive change. , Smartlogic’s Content Intelligence capabilities ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Pittcon is pleased to announce ... offered in symposia, oral sessions, workshops, awards, and posters. The core of ... applications such as, but not limited to, biotechnology, biomedical, drug discovery, environmental, food ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 26, 2015 --> ... 2016 - 2020 report analyzes that automating biobanking ... quality in long-term samples, minimizing manual errors, improving ... minimizes manual errors such as mislabeling or inaccurate ... it plays a vital role in blood fractionation, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Mass. , Nov. 25, 2015 Harvard ... biotechnology company developing bioengineered organ implants for life-threatening conditions, ... present at the LD Micro "Main Event" investor conference ... The presentation will be webcast live and posted for ... be available at the conference for one-on-one meetings on ...
Breaking Biology Technology: