Testing Kudzu bug attractions to plant volatiles

Kudzu covers over 7,400,000 acres in the southeastern United States. It is covering most of our state, and national forests, and its destroying wanted vegetation. Because of this problem, we need to get rid of Kudzu.
Our project is to test the levels of E-2- Hexenal of different ages of the kudzu and also test the preferences between kudzu and soybeans of the Megacopta Cribraria (kudzu bug). We think that the bug will be more attracted to the older kudzu and the older soybeans.
By testing the amounts of E-2- Hexenalwe hope to reduce the amount of E-2 hexenal in the soybeans over all to make the bugs less attracted to them. This will save farmers money, so they do not lose as many crops. Forgetting rid of the Kudzu we hope to increaselevels of E-2- Hexenal so they will be more attracted to it and decrease the amount of kudzu in the US.lilly

Attention!Attention!It’s kudzu bug TIME.

carlyOur project is to see kudzu bug attraction to plant volatiles. Kudzu bugs are native to china and came over to the US in 2009 by plane.You can find Kudzu bugs mostly eating on soybeans and Kudzu plant. We are testing to see will  Kudzu bugs well be more attracted to plants with more or no E-2 Hexenal. E-2 Hexenal is a green odor that is found in most plant stems.So far we have grown our soybeans and they have germinated .We went to the Kudzu patch outside of the football  field at and BHS. We have tested Kudzu and have gotten a variety of Kudzu and control(water).We have found out that we have been turning on a light in the air vent which means that your test are wrong. I bet you are wondering WHY,well Kudzu bugs like light!All the Kudzu bugs that I tested went to water…the water was right over the light! Keeping looking for the next update!

Bean Weevils + Kudzu = Oil?

nicoleThis year BAJONI is down to 2 members. Bain and I are screening the B. ademptus (a bean weevil specific to kudzu seeds) and fungus isolated from the outside of the kudzu seeds for the presence of lipases and proteases. Lipases are enzymes that break down oil and proteases are enzymes that break down proteins. If the fungus or bean weevils test positive for lipases, proteases, or both, then they could later be used in enzymatic oil extraction and produce better, more efficient oil to be used as a biodiesel.

TURN (noise) DOWN FOR WHAT?

Team Carly and Abby have made several upgrades to the electroantennogram set up in an effort to minimize noise (the electrical static in the background which can cover up our bug’s electrical response). With guidance from our electrical expert, we went from copper to silver wire, Styrofoam surface to cardboard (apparently Styrofoam worsens noise!) and what made the biggest difference: having the air pump system separate and on a different table. That way, when we puff our chemical and our air pump vibrates, the movement is not directly wiggling our antenna setup! Now we can distinguish electrical response from background noise.

 

Bugs and Guts: Fine tuning our dissection skills

Trial and error. Trial and error. Trial and error…and some more error. Team Carly and Abby is working out the kinks in the electroantennogram, an apparatus that will measure the kudzu bug antennae response to a chemical. We’ve had to change our set up, fine tune our dissection skills, and do a lot of practice. One problem we’ve figured out is how to prep our stink bug; if its dead for too long, it won’t work. (We’ve found this to mean that the more gooey our bug is, the easier it is to have electrical conductivity.) So, we tried live bugs only to discover that, for some reason, they were very resistant to giving us their antennae. Next we tried knocking them out with CO2–only to find that they would wake up in a couple of minutes! Finally, we decided a head rather than full body preparation would work best, and put our bug in the freezer prior to dissection…. With a small body, smaller head, and smallest antennae, the stereoscope helped a lot. There has been definite improvement: instead of a miniature demolition site, we’ve been able to make clean contact with the antennae. (See picture below)abby

EAG: It’s Electric!

EAG: It’s electric!

Team Abby and Carly are gearing up for phase two: the electroantennogram assay! We hope to record our invasive stink bug’s electrical response to various chemicals, including [E]-2-hexenal which we’ve had promising behavioral data. If an insect is communicating with a chemical, then the antennae will have a voltage when it contacts that chemical. While Abby and I are excited to try this with our insect, we’ve definitely had to improvise with materials. With the expertise of an electrical wise guy, we’re attempting to adapt an electrocardiogram (EKG) into our electroantennogram (EAG)…the difficulty being that an EKG hooks up to a human to measure the voltage of heartbeats while an EAG measures the voltage of 2 mm antenna! (see picture below) We just received our electrical receptors that we’ll use to help make this adaptation happen, and are ready to start tinkering.kudzu

Y Not?

1brevard_research-202The dynamic duo (Carly and Abby) are back at it again with the open-Y track olfactometer! This is our third year in the TIME program working with the kudzu bug, an invasive stink bug native to Asia that’s devastating soybean crops in the Southeastern United States. We are currently working with behavioral tests to see the stinkbugs reactions to [E]-2-hexenal (chemical the females were significantly attracted to last year) at different concentrations. If we can find a specific concentration that significantly attracts or repels the kudzu bug, it could be used towards controlling this pest. So far the results are not what we expected, but hey that’s science!