Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Probe 'Fly Spit' For Clues To Serious Wheat Pest

Date:
January 26, 2007
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
The Hessian fly, the No. 1 global pest of wheat, is not your ordinary insect. Its fiercest weapon -- capable of making wheat plants droop, topple over and even commit cell suicide -- is its deadly saliva. Based on findings by scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Manhattan, Kan., the fly appears to put a lot of genetic stock in executing this unusual offensive.

Gut and salivary glands dissected from a Hessian fly larva as viewed through a microscope with dark-field illumination. The genes expressed in these tissues are critical to how the fly parasitizes wheat.
Credit: Photo by Rich Shukle

The Hessian fly, the No. 1 global pest of wheat, is not your ordinary insect. Its fiercest weapon -- capable of making wheat plants droop, topple over and even commit cell suicide -- is its deadly saliva.

Related Articles


Based on findings by scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Manhattan, Kan., the fly appears to put a lot of genetic stock in executing this unusual offensive. The ARS team has identified at least 2,000 genes that play some role in churning out the toxic salivary brew that the fly injects into wheat plants when taking a bite.

Led by entomologist Ming-Shun Chen, the researchers are zeroing in on these genes, in hopes of pinpointing those that make the destructive Hessian fly such an elusive pest.

For thousands of years, wheat plants and Hessian flies have been squaring off, with the fly trying to get access to its favorite food, as the wheat plants guard themselves from attack. For every one of wheat's resistance genes, there's a corresponding "avirulence" gene in the fly.

Even modern breeding efforts can't fully bolster wheat plants. At least four of the most recent resistance genes introduced into wheat plants no longer ensure an effective level of protection because of the fly's highly adaptive nature.

Chen and his team, who work at the Grain Marketing and Production Research Center (GMPRC) in Manhattan, have identified 97 "superfamilies" of genes in the fly that encode for toxic salivary proteins. This appears to be a hefty genetic investment, given the fly's minute genome, considered one of the smallest in the insect world.

The GMPRC researchers are also making progress in efforts to prop up fly-weary wheat plants. They've mapped several resistance genes in wheat, including the H9 and H13 gene clusters. These findings are helping breeders conduct marker-assisted selection, a method for "stacking" multiple protective genes into a single plant.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Scientists Probe 'Fly Spit' For Clues To Serious Wheat Pest." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070125115529.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2007, January 26). Scientists Probe 'Fly Spit' For Clues To Serious Wheat Pest. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070125115529.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Scientists Probe 'Fly Spit' For Clues To Serious Wheat Pest." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070125115529.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nanoscale Sensor Could Help Wine Producers and Clinical Scientists

Nanoscale Sensor Could Help Wine Producers and Clinical Scientists

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 30, 2015) A nanosensor that mimics the oral effects and sensations of drinking wine has been developed by Danish and Portuguese researchers. Jim Drury saw it in operation. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) Retired astronaut and television host, Leland Melvin, snuck his dogs into the NASA studio so they could be in his official photo. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) shows us, the secret is out. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rarest Cat on Planet Caught Attacking Monkeys on Camera

Rarest Cat on Planet Caught Attacking Monkeys on Camera

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) An African Golden Cat, the rarest large cat on the planet was recently caught on camera by scientists trying to study monkeys. The cat comes out of nowhere to attack those monkeys. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) has the rest. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins