Formation of Stylet Sheaths in aere (in air) from Eight Species of Phytophagous Hemipterans from Six Families (Suborders: Auchenorrhyncha and Sternorrhyncha)
Stylet sheath formation is a common feature among phytophagous hemipterans. These sheaths are considered essential to promote a successful feeding event. Stylet sheath compositions are largely unknown and their mode of solidification remains to be elucidated. This report demonstrates the formation and solidification of in aere (in air) produced stylet sheaths by six hemipteran families: Diaphorina citri (Psyllidae, Asian citrus psyllid), Aphis nerii (Aphididae, oleander/milkweed aphid), Toxoptera citricida (Aphididae, brown citrus aphid), Aphis gossypii (Aphididae, cotton melon aphid), Bemisia tabaci biotype B (Aleyrodidae, whitefly), Homalodisca vitripennis (Cicadellidae, glassy-winged sharpshooter), Ferrisia virgata (Pseudococcidae, striped mealybug), and Protopulvinaria pyriformis (Coccidae, pyriform scale). Examination of in aere produced stylet sheaths by confocal and scanning electron microscopy shows a common morphology of an initial flange laid down on the surface of the membrane followed by continuous hollow core structures with sequentially stacked hardened bulbous droplets. Single and multi-branched sheaths were common, whereas mealybug and scale insects typically produced multi-branched sheaths. Micrographs of the in aere formed flanges indicate flange sealing upon stylet bundle extraction in D. citri and the aphids, while the B. tabaci whitefly and H. vitripennis glassy-winged sharpshooter flanges remain unsealed. Structural similarity of in aere sheaths are apparent in stylet sheaths formed in planta, in artificial diets, or in water. The use of 'Solvy', a dissolvable membrane, for intact stylet sheath isolation is reported. These observations illustrate for the first time this mode of stylet sheath synthesis adding to the understanding of stylet sheath formation in phytophagous hemipterans and providing tools for future use in structural and compositional analysis.