Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Novel Control of the Forest Bug

The Forest Bug, Pentatoma rufipes

The Forest Bug, Pentatoma rufipes, is a pest of nut and fruit trees, particularly hazelnut (AliNiazee, 1998 Annual Review of Entomology 43 pp. 395-419), where its feeding reduces vigor in the plants and facilitates the spread of disease. This is due to the feeding method of P. rufipes, a piercing and sucking motion that removes sap from the host that is characteristic of the Hemiptera.

Control of this pest is currently reliant on insecticides such as cabosulfan. However this particular pesticide has been shown to have mutagenic properties (Giri et al., 2002 Mutation Research 519 pp. 75–82) while others can destroy relationships in a community by affecting non target organisms (Elzen, 2001 Journal of Economic Entomology 94 pp. 55-59).

Neupert et al. (2009, Peptides 30 pp. 483–488) propose an intriguing alternative. Neuropeptides that mimic those in P. rufipes could be synthesised with the aim of disrupting the organisms reproductive success. Key to this strategy is further study of the P. rufipes peptide sequence, or peptidome.

To this end, Neupert's study isolated products of two previously unobserved neuropeptide genes (allatotropin-related peptide and tachykinin-related peptides) using MALDI ToF mass spectrometry from the ventral nerve chord and antennal lobes respectively.

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