The importance of gut symbionts in the development of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stål).
The invasive brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stål), has become a severe agricultural pest and nuisance problem since its introduction in the U.S. Research is being conducted to understand its biology and to find management solutions. Its symbiotic relationship with gut symbionts is one aspect of its biology that is not understood. In the family Pentatomidae, the reliance on gut symbionts for successful development seems to vary depending on the species of stink bug. This research assessed the role of gut symbionts in the development, survivorship, and fecundity of H. halys. We compared various fitness parameters of nymphs and adults reared from surface sterilized and untreated egg masses during two consecutive generations under laboratory conditions. Results provided direct evidence that H. halys is negatively impacted by the prevention of vertical transmission of its gut symbionts and that this impact is significant in the first generation and manifests dramatically in the subsequent generation. Developmental time and survivorship of treated cohorts in the first generation were significantly affected during third instar development through to the adult stage. Adults from the sterilized treatment group exhibited longer pre-oviposition periods, produced fewer egg masses, had significantly smaller clutch sizes, and the hatch rate and survivorship of those eggs were significantly reduced. Observations following hatch of surface sterilized eggs also revealed significant effects on wandering behavior of the first instars. The second generation progeny from adults of the sterilized cohorts showed significantly lower survival to adulthood, averaging only 0.3% compared to 20.8% for the control cohorts. Taken together, results demonstrate that H. halys is heavily impacted by deprival of its gut symbionts. Given the economic status of this invasive pest, further investigations may lead to management tactics that disrupt this close symbiotic relationship in the biology of H. halys.