Sunn pest (or cereal bug) (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae and Scutelleridae) infestations of wheat, Triticum aestivum L., in the grain filling stage have the potential to adversely affect the quality of harvested grain for bread making. In the absence of resistant wheat cultivars, producers must rely on chemical control to protect their crop from sunn pest infestations. To implement an efficient environment friendly control strategy, there is a need to pinpoint the relationships between the timing of the bug attack and gluten degradation. Recent outbreaks of Eurygaster maura (L.) in northwestern Italy have increased the local concern toward this problem. A 3-yr study was carried out by caging plants of two bread wheat cultivars, characterized by different seed texture and bread-making quality, and introducing adults of E. maura in four periods corresponding to different grain filling stages: heading, early milk-ripe, milk-ripe, and late milk-ripe. The degree of bread-making quality depletion was assessed by analytical and biochemical methods and related to the attack period. Using analysis of variance, significant differences were found in the quality traits of kernels attacked by E. maura in different grain filling stages, the maximum damage occurring with bug feeding at the late milk-ripe stage. Biochemical investigations on gluten confirmed analytical results; in grain samples infested at the late milk-ripe stage, SDS gel electrophoresis revealed the degradation of some components of the high-molecular-weight glutenins, and high-performance liquid chromatography analyses showed a breakdown of the first peak of the insoluble fraction, mainly containing polymeric proteins highly related to dough strength.
Journal of Economic Entomology
Vol. 99 • No. 3
Vol. 99 • No. 3
high-performance liquid chromatography
sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis