The Mexican bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis) regurgitome and insights into beetle-borne virus specificity

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© 2018 Gedling et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. For nearly 400 million years, insects and plants have been embattled in an evolutionary arms race. Insects have developed diverse feeding strategies and behaviors in an effort to circumvent and overcome an extensive collection of plant defense tactics. Sap-sucking insects often inject saliva into hosts plants, which contains a suite of effector proteins and even microbial communities that can alter the plant’s defenses. Lacking salivary glands, leaf-feeding beetles represent an interesting group of phytophagous insects. Feeding beetles regurgitate onto leaf surfaces and it is thought that these oral secretions influence insect-plant interactions and even play a role in virus-vector specificity. Since the molecular and biological makeup of the regurgitant is virtually unknown, we carried out RNA sequencing and 16S rDNA analysis on a major soybean pest, Epilachna varivestis, to generate the first ever beetle “regurgitome” and characterize its microbiome. Interestingly, the regurgitant is comprised of a rich molecular assortment of genes encoding putative extracellular proteins involved in digestion, molting, immune defense, and detoxification. By carrying out plant inoculation assays, we reinforced the fundamental role of the regurgitant in beetle-borne virus specificity. Ultimately, these studies begin to characterize the importance of regurgitant in virus transmission and beetle-plant interactions.




Gedling, C. R., Smith, C. M., LeMoine, C. M. R., & Cassone, B. J. (2018). The Mexican bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis) regurgitome and insights into beetle-borne virus specificity. PLoS ONE, 13(1).

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