Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Richard Shukle
headline bar

Richard Shukle


Adjunct Associate Professor USDA-ARS Research Entomologist

Office Phone:  494-6351

Office Number:  WSLR Room 238

Lab Number:  WSLR Room 241

Lab Phone:  494-7193




PhD Entomology 1980, Universityof California, Davis


Research Interest


Program Summary: The Hessian fly is a pest in all of the wheat producing regions of North America and is the most important insect pest of wheat in the southeastern soft winter wheat production region of the United States. Genetically resistant wheat is the most effective means for preventing yield losses due to Hessian fly infestation. While the use of resistant wheat is an effective means for controlling Hessian fly, it places a selective pressure on populations and has led to the appearance of biotypes of the pest that can overcome resistance. A recent evaluation of 21 of the identified resistance ( R) genes in wheat to Hessian fly documented that only 5 of the Rgenes would provide effective protection of wheat to Hessian fly in the Southeast. These results indicate that new approaches to the deployment of Rgenes such as gene combinations, identification of new and effective sources of resistance, and genetically engineered resistance are needed if genetic resistance is to continue as a viable option for protection of wheat in the Southeast.

ATEM cross section of the midgut from a control larva showing normal microvilli and epithelial cell ultrastructure. BTEM cross section of the midgut from a larva fed Galanthus nivalisagglutinin showing disruption of microvilli and abnormal epithelial cell ultrastructure.
Long-Term Goal: Our long-term goal is to ensure effective and durable resistance in wheat to Hessian fly. One approach we are taking toward this goal is to test combinations of effective undeployedRgenes using F 1plants and Hessian fly collections from different locations across the Southeast. Results will test the hypothesis that deployment of a combination of two highly effective Rgenes will be more efficacious and potentially more durable than single gene releases. We are also employing an in plantabioassay with Hessian fly larvae to discover toxic proteins that could be utilized in transgenic resistance. Using this assay we are testing lectins for toxicity as well as various Bacillus thuringiensisCry ?-endotoxins. These results are testing the hypothesis that toxic proteins can provide effective transgenic resistance to Hessian fly that can be pyramided with combinations of native genes for resistance. A third approach to develop novel resistance in wheat to Hessian fly is the application of RNA interference (RNAi). We have used RNAi as a functional genomics tool with Hessian fly larvae and recently developed what appears to be a simple and effective approach to eliciting RNAi knockdown of targeted transcripts. Preliminary results with RNAi suggest we have identified a secreted salivary gland protein (SSGP) that is a virulence effector involved in the stunting of seedling wheat by Hessian fly larvae. When the gene encoding this SSGP is silenced by RNAi larvae appear to be unable to stunt wheat and cannot develop properly. We propose to test the hypothesis that plant mediated RNAi silencing of this gene can provide effective resistance to Hessian fly.

Impact: Scientists facing the challenge of devising innovative methods of pest control through genetic engineering and other contemporary approaches will benefit from this fundamental knowledge. Wheat producers, commodity groups, and consumers will also benefit through improved and more durable pest control without increased cost.


Professional Activities:I have served as an ad hoc reviewer for NRI, BARD, and NSF competitive grants from 1990 - present. I also serve as an ad hoc reviewer for the following professional journals:   Insect Molecular Biology, Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Journal of Insect Physiology, Archives of Insect biochemistry and Physiology, Annals of the Entomological Society of America ,EntomologiaExperimentalis et Applicata, Journal of Heredity, Bulletin of Entomological Research, Journal of Insect Science, Journal of Applied Entomology, Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society.


Participation in National Scientific Meetings, Technical Conferences, Workshops


Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting, 1978 to present.


North Central Branch of the Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting, 1984 to present.


Biennial International Plant Resistance to Insects Workshop, 1984 to present.


Served as the Chair of the organizing committee for the 17 thBiennial International Plant Resistance to Insects (IPRI) Workshop held at PurdueUniversityin 2006.


Keystone Symposium on Genetic Manipulation of Insects, 1995 to 2001.


Plant & Animal Genomes Conferences San Diego, CA, 2003, 2006, 2007.


Extension/Outreach Activities:I have an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Ming-Shun Chen ( USDA-ARS, Manhattan, KS) using an Affymetrix expression array for transcripts encoding secreted salivary gland proteins (SSGPs) in the larval Hessian fly. The focus of this collaboration is to evaluate diversity in SSGP genes in different Hessian fly populations and lines. My specific interest lies in evaluation of diversity and how it relates to the evolution of SSGPs present in Hessian fly populations from the southeastern United Statesand the Middle East.   Additionally, I have a very active collaboration with Dr. Phyllis Weintraub(Israeli Agricultural Ministry, Gilat Research Center, Israel) on characterization of Hessian fly from Israelwith a primary focus on the diversity of SSGPs in Israeli populations. I also have a similar collaboration with Dr. Mustapha El-Bouhssini (ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria).


Publications last five years

Shukle, R. H., Subramanyam, S., Saltzmann, K. A., Williams, C. E. 2010. Ultrastructural changes in the midguts of Hessian fly larvae feeding on resistant wheat.Journal of Insect Physiology . 56:754-760. available at

Zhang, S., Shukle, R. H., Mittapalli, O., Zhu, Y. C., Reese, J. C., Wang, H., Hua, B.-Z., Chen, M.-S. 2010 The gut transcriptome of a gall midge, Mayetiola destructor.Journal of Insect Physiolog y. Available online early at .

Behura, S. K., Shukle, R. H.and Stuart, J. J. 2010. Assessment of structural variation and molecular mapping of insertion sites of Desmar-like elements in the Hessian fly genome. Accepted Insect Molecular Biology July 2010. 

Shukle, R. H., Mittapalli, O., Morton, P. K., Chen, M. S. 2009. Characterization and expression analysis of a gene encoding a secreted lipase-like protein expressed in the salivary glands of the larval Hessia fly, Mayetiola destructor(Say). Journal of Insect Physiology, 55; 104-111.

Mittapalli, O. and Shukle, R. H.2008. Molecular characterization and responsive expression of a defender against apoptotoic cell death homologue from Hessian fly,Mayetiola destructor. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B, 149; 517-523.

Shukle, R. H., Yoshiyama, M., Morton, P.K., Johnson, A. J., and Schemerhorn, B.J. 2008. Tissue and developmental expression of a gene from Hessian fly encoding an ABC-active-transporter protein: Implications for Malpighian tubule function during interactions with wheat.Journal of Insect Physiology, 54(1); 146-154.

Mittapalli, O., Neal, J. J., and Shukle, R. H.2007. Antioxidant defense response in a galling insect.Proceedings of the NationalAcademyof Sciences (USA), 104(6); 1889-1894.

Mittapalli, O., Sardesai, N., and Shukle, R. H.2007. cDNA cloning and transcriptional expression of a peritrophin-like gene in the Hessian fly, Mayetiola destructor(Say). Archives of. Insect Biochemistry and Physiology, 64; 19-29.

Mittapalli, O., Neal, J. J., and Shukle, R. H.2007. Tissue and life stage specificity of glutathione S-transferase expression in the Hessian fly, Mayetiola destructor:  Implications for resistance to host allelochemicals. Journal of Insect Science, 7; article 20.

Tarver, M. R., Shade, R. E., Shukle, R. H., Moar, Muir, W. M., Murdock, L. M., and Pittendrigh, B. P. 2007. Pyramiding of insecticidal compounds for control of the cowpea bruchid (Callosobruchus Maculatus F.). PestManagement Science, 63(5); 440-446.

Mittapalli, O., Shukle, R. H., Sardesai, N., Giovanini, M. P., and Williams, C. E. 2006. Expression patterns of antibacterial genes in the Hessian fly.Journal of Insect Physiology, 52 1143-1152.

Mittapalli, O., Neal, J. J., and Shukle, R. H.2006. Characterization of a serine carboxypeptidase in the salivary glands and fat body of the orange wheat blossom midge, Sitodiplosis mosellana(Diptera: Cecidomyiidae).Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 36(2); 154-160.

Giovanini, M. P., Puthoff, D. P., Nemacheck, J. A., Mittapalli, O., Saltzmann, K, Ohm, H. W., Shukle, R. H., and Williams, C.E. 2006. Gene-for-gene defense of wheat against the Hessian fly lacks an oxidative burst.Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions, 19(9); 1023-1033.

Mittapalli, O., Shukle, R. H., and Wise, I.L. 2006. Identification of mariner-like elements from Sitodiplosis mosellana(Diptera: Cecidomyiidae). The Canadian Entomologist, 138(2); 138-146.

Mittapalli, O., Neal, J. J., and Shukle, R. H.2005. Differential expression of two cytochrome P450 genes in compatible and incompatible Hessian fly/wheat interactions.Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 35(9); 981-989.

Mittapalli, O., Stuart, J. J., and Shukle, R. H.2005. Molecular cloning and characterization of two digestive serine proteases from the Hessian fly,Mayetiola destructor. Insect Molecular Biology, 14(3); 309-318.

Last Modified: 8/12/2016
Footer Content Back to Top of Page