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Mycotoxigenic Fusarium spp. associated with stink bugs collected from corn fields in the mid-Atlantic U.S.

Joseph Opoku: Virginia Tech TAREC

<div>Stink bugs, including invasive brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) (<em>Halyomorpha halys</em>), can severely damage crops including field corn. A survey of BMSB-infested corn fields in Virginia in 2013 identified a correlation between BMSB damage and fumonisin contamination. In artificially BMSB-infested and <em>Fusarium</em> inoculated field trials conducted in 2015, the ability of BMSB to increase <em>Fusarium </em>infection and fumonisin contamination in corn was demonstrated. Feeding damage is likely to contribute to increased infection and mycotoxin contamination, but the potential for stink bugs to vector <em>Fusarium</em> spp. has not been explored. In 2016, BMSB and native stink bugs were collected from corn fields in DE, MD, and VA to determine if mycotoxin producing <em>Fusarium</em> spp. could be isolated from their internal or external body parts. Fusarium was isolated from a total of 167 stink bugs collected from 8 corn fields. Partial RPB1 gene of each isolate was sequenced to identify species, and simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were used to genotype isolates. Fumonisin-producing <em>F. proliferatum</em> and <em>F. verticillioides</em> and deoxynivalenol-producing <em>F.</em> <em> graminearum</em> were isolated from stink bugs. Within each species, a diversity of SSR haplotypes were identified. Mycotoxigenic <em>Fusarium</em> species are associated with stink bugs, so the insects have the potential to move these fungi across landscapes and vector the pathogens to susceptible crops including field corn.</div>

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