UNDERSTANDING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE BROWN MARMORATED STINK BUG, HALYOMORPHA HALYS (STÅL), AND ITS SYMBIONT, PANTOEA CARBEKII, WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR STINK BUG MANAGEMENT
Taylor, Christopher Michael
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Symbiotic relationships between insects and beneficial microbes are very common in nature, especially within the Hemiptera. The brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, harbors a symbiont, Pantoea carbekii, within the fourth region of the midgut in specialized crypts. In this dissertation, I explored this insect- microbe relationship. I determined that the brown marmorated stink bug is heavily reliant on its symbiont, and that experimental removal of the symbiont from the egg mass surface prior to nymphal acquisition led to lower survival, longer development, lower fecundity, and aberrant nymphal behavior. Additionally, I determined that even when the symbiont is acquired and housed in the midgut crypts, it is susceptible to stressors. Stink bugs reared at a higher temperature showed lower survival, longer development, and a cease in egg mass production, and when bugs were screened for their symbiont, fewer had successfully retained it while under heat stress. Finally, with the knowledge that the stink bug suffers decreases in fitness when its symbiont is missing or stressed, I wanted to determine if targeting the symbiont was a possible management technique for the stink bug. I tested the efficacy of a number of different insecticidal and antimicrobial products to determine whether prevention of symbiont acquisition from the egg mass was possible, and results indicated that transmission of the symbiont from the egg mass to the newly hatched nymph was negatively impacted when certain products were applied (namely surfactants or products containing surfactants). Additionally, direct effects on hatch rate and survival were reported for certain products, namely the insect growth regulator azadirachtin, which suggests that nymphs can pick up residues from the egg mass surface while probing for the symbiont. I conclude that P. carbekii plays a critically important role in the survival of its host, the brown marmorated stink bug, and its presence on the egg mass surface before nymphal hatch makes it targetable as a potential management technique.