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Comparison of mycotoxigenic Fusarium genotypes associated with stink bugs and field corn in the mid-Atlantic U.S.

Allison Coomber: Cornell University

<div>Stink bugs, including the invasive brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB)<span>, <em>Halyomorpha </em></span><em>halys</em> (Stål), and the native brown stink bug, cause significant damage to crops in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Surveys of corn fields have indicated that BMSB damage is associated with increased incidence of <em>Fusarium spp.</em> that cause grain mold and mycotoxin contamination. We explored the relationship between stink bugs and <em>Fusarium, </em>specifically focusing on the potential that stink bugs are a vector for the pathogen. Paired stink bug and corn samples were collected from corn fields in VA, MD, and DE, and <em>Fusarium spp.</em> were isolated from both. To compare stink bug and corn associated populations, we generated genomic tools in the form of molecular markers by bioinformatically mining publicly available data for BMSB and three mycotoxin-producing <em>Fusarium </em>species of interest, <em>F. verticillioides, F. proliferatum, </em>and <em>F. graminearum</em>. From these datasets we identified over 1500 potential microsatellite markers. We screened these markers to develop a working set of 39. These were used to genotype <em>Fusarium</em> populations isolated from both stink bugs and corn. Diverse <em>Fusarium</em> genotypes were associated with corn and stink bugs, and in many instances corn and stink bug isolates from the same field were genetically distinct. These results provide information about <em>Fusarium </em>movement across the agricultural landscape and may inform management practices that reduce mycotoxin contamination.</div>