Many stinkbugs (Insecta: Hemiptera: Heteroptera) are associated with bacterial symbionts in a posterior region of the midgut. In these stinkbugs, adult females excrete symbiont-containing materials from the anus for transmission of the beneficial symbionts to their offspring. For ensuring the vertical symbiont transmission, a variety of female-specific elaborate traits at the cellular, morphological, developmental, and behavioral levels have been reported from diverse stinkbugs of the families Plataspidae, Urostylididae, Parastrachiidae, etc. Meanwhile, such elaborate female-specific traits for vertical symbiont transmission have been poorly characterized for the largest and economically important stinkbug family Pentatomidae. Here, we investigated the midgut symbiotic system of a pentatomid stinkbug, Plautia splendens. A specific gammaproteobacterial symbiont was consistently present extracellularly in the cavity of numerous crypts arranged in four rows on the midgut fourth section. The symbiont was smeared on the egg surface upon oviposition by adult females, orally acquired by newborn nymphs, and thereby transmitted vertically to the next generation and important for growth and survival of the host insects. We found that, specifically in adult females, several rows of crypts at the posterior end region of the symbiotic midgut were morphologically differentiated and conspicuously enlarged, often discharging the symbiotic bacteria from the crypt cavity to the main tract of the symbiotic midgut. The female-specific enlarged end crypts were also found in other pentatomid stinkbugs Plautia stali and Carbula crassiventris. These results suggest that the enlarged end crypts represent a female-specific specialized morphological trait for vertical symbiont transmission commonly found among stinkbugs of the family Pentatomidae.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology