The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys Stål.) influences pungent and non-pungent Capsicum cultivars' pre- and post-harvest quality.
Halyomorpha halys is an important invasive pest that causes severe damage to fruits and vegetables. Peppers are susceptible to infestation by H. halys, resulting in yield losses. Plants respond to the insect infestation with a metabolic response. With this study, we attempted to determine the intensity of the metabolic response of infested peppers, how pungent and non-pungent peppers react to the infestation, and how the H. halys affects the post-harvest quality of both cultivars. The shelf life of the infested peppers did not change compared to the control treatments. We observed a drastic decrease in metabolite levels after storage in all three treatments in both cultivars, especially capsaicinoids, with an approximate decrease of 30% in the pericarp and 95% in the placenta of the pungent 'Eris F1'. In some cases, the accumulation of metabolites was not limited to the fruit exposed to the H. halys infestation, but to the entire plant. We observed a 15-fold increase in capsaicinoid content in the infested fruits of cultivar 'Eris F1' and a 4-fold increase in the pericarp of cultivar 'Lombardo tago', which could lead to a possible further study on the defensive function of capsaicinoids and their use against H. halys.