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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Research Project #430735

Research Project: Defining Molecular Mechanisms of Terpene Aggregation Pheromone Biosynthesis in Stink Bugs to Engineer Pheromone-producing Trap Crops

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-22000-288-13-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Feb 1, 2016
End Date: Dec 1, 2019

Objective:
The goal of this project is to elucidate the biosynthesis of terpene aggregation pheromones in pentatomids (stink bugs), and to assemble gene tools for engineering uniquely attractive trap crops that produce these pheromones for use in management of serious stink bug pests such as harlequin bug. Project will ascertain the insect biosynthetic pathways and their regulation, with the eventual objective of creating Brassica trap crops which incorporate these pathways. The specific objectives of the proposal are to: (1) characterize the pheromone biosynthetic pathway in the insect; (2) examine the molecular and tissue-specific regulation of its biosynthesis in response to host plant cues; (3) begin plant incorporation of biosynthetic steps using transient and stable plant transformation systems, in concert with validation by analytical chemistry and harlequin bug bioassays.

Approach:
The approach will involve characterization of harlequin bug pheromone biosynthesis by comparative transcriptome profiling, characterization of the biosynthesis interaction and preferential attraction to the host plant, and mechanisms for creation of a pheromone-producing plant transformed by these genes. Successful identification of the biosynthetic genes will depend on comparative gene expression analyses in different sexes, at different developmental stages, and in pheromone-producing tissues of adult males. The molecular and tissue-specific regulation of pheromone biosynthesis in response to host plant cues will be examined, including developmental, tissue-specific, and population density-dependent gene expression patterns (in vitro, in situ) to determine effects of glucosinolates and plant volatile compounds as host plant-specific cues from different Brassica crops on pheromone production and gene expression, as well as inherent attraction to harlequin bugs in the lab and field. Pheromone biosynthetic steps will be engineered using transient and stable plant transformation systems, in concert with validation by analytical chemistry and harlequin bug bioassays.