Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Effect of the salivary proteinase from the New Zealand wheat bug, Nysius huttoni, on various exotic and endemic plant seeds.

Abstract

The effect of Nysius huttoni White feeding on immature plant seeds was examined by caging the insect with the seed heads of the following plants: wireweed (Polygonum aviculare), twin cress (Coronopus didymus), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), fathen (Chenopodium album), and native wheat grass (Elymus solandri). The largest seeds (wheat grass and wireweed) were the most physically damaged with shrivelling and colour changes. The amount of N. huttoni proteinases in infested seeds varied widely from 48 enzyme units/g wireweed seed to 8075 enzyme units/g yarrow seed, but there appeared to be no relationship between proteinase content and the amount of physical damage to the seeds. Sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS)-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis showed that high levels of proteinase in twin cress and yarrow seeds could hydrolyse protein subunits of a wide range of molecular weights. In contrast, incubation of undamaged twin cress and yarrow seeds with proteinase purified from N. huttoni-damaged wheat grain, did not hydrolyse any protein. The purified enzyme only hydrolysed high molecular weight (HMW) protein subunits in wheat-grass seeds and wheat grain (Triticum aestivum), and possibly protein macropolymers in giant spaniard (Aciphylla scott-thomsonii) and koromiko (Hebe salicifolia) seeds. These HMW proteins in wheat grass, giant spaniard, and koromiko seeds may have similar structure to the HMW glutenin subunits of wheat grain. It is concluded that when N. huttoni feeds on some seeds it can inject proteinases of a broader specificity range than the highly specific proteinase found in N. huttoni-damaged wheat, and it is suggested that particularly the latter enzyme has a role in softening the outer layers of seeds to facilitate bug stylus penetration and maintain the flow of sap.