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A PCR-based analysis of plant DNA reveals the feeding preferences of Apolygus lucorum (Heteroptera: Miridae)

Wang, Qian, Bao, Weifang, Yang, Fan, Yang, Yizhong, Lu, Yanhui
Arthropod-plant interactions 2018 v.12 no.4 pp. 567-574
DNA, Humulus, Medicago sativa, Miridae, adults, cotton, crops, digestive system, feeding preferences, field experimentation, flowering, half life, host plants, pests, polymerase chain reaction, seedlings, species abundance, China
The mirid bug Apolygus lucorum (Meyer-Dür) (Heteroptera: Miridae) is a severe pest of cotton and other crops in China. The feeding preferences of this pest are unclear due to its frequent movement among different host plants and the inconspicuous signs of its feeding. Here, we present results of a field trial that used direct observation of bug densities and a PCR-based molecular detection assay to detect plant DNA in bugs to explore relationships between A. lucorum population abundance and its feeding preference between two host plants, Humulus scandens (Loureiro) Merrill and Medicago sativa L. The field-plot samples showed that A. lucorum adults generally prefer flowering host plants. Its density was significantly higher on flowering H. scandens than on seedlings of M. sativa, and a similarly higher bug density was observed on flowering M. sativa than on seedlings of H. scandens. In the laboratory, we designed two pairs of species-specific primers targeting the trnL-F region for H. scandens and M. sativa, respectively. The detectability of plant DNA generally decreased with time post-feeding, and the half-life of plant DNA detection (DS₅₀) in the gut was estimated as 6.26 h for H. scandens and 3.79 h for M. sativa with significant differences between each other. In mirid bugs exposed to seedlings of H. scandens and flowering M. sativa, the detection rate of M. sativa DNA was significantly higher than that of H. scandens. Meanwhile, in mirid bugs exposed to seedlings of M. sativa and flowering H. scandens, a significantly higher detection rate of H. scandens DNA was found. We developed a useful tool to detect the remaining plant food species specifically from the gut of A. lucorum in the current study. We provided direct evidence of its feeding preference between H. scandens and M. sativa at different growth stages, which strongly supported a positive correlation between population abundance and feeding preference of A. lucorum on different plants under field conditions. The findings provide new insights into the understanding of A. lucorum’s feeding preference, and are helpful for developing the strategies to control this pest.