Alina Avanesyan
Among the redwoods -- Muir Woods

MAES grant proposal on using a NGS-approach for meta-barcoding the lanternfly gut contents has been funded!

– January 3, 2020

I was very pleased to know that our grant proposal entitled “Identification of host plant use by the invasive spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) using next-gen DNA sequencing technology” has been funded by Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station Competitive Grant Program!

For this one-year study, we have proposed using a next-generation sequencing technology (‘Amplicon-EZ’) for meta-barcoding plant species from the gut contents of the invasive spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula. Our current findings of plant DNA detection from the gut contents of the lanternfly nymphs using Sanger sequencing (Avanesyan and Lamp, manuscript is in preparation) suggest that while the observed lanternfly nymphs actively move on a host plant they may not utilize it for feeding. A substantial number of the nymphs (~90%) we have analyzed showed the ingested DNA from a host plant other than the plant from which the nymphs were collected. However, Sanger sequncing allowed us to detect and identify only DNA from one unique ingested plant. Conducting meta-barcoding of the lanternfly gut contents will allow us to detect multiple plant DNA fragments and detangle all possible associations with the host plants.

Overview of the proposed activities for the project
BLAST results of the gut content of the 3rd nymphal instar collected from a maple tree

To date, we have successfully sequenced the gut content from one lanternfly nymph which yielded 139 ingested plant sequences. Among these fragments 12% were readable (i.e. long enough to use the BLAST engine in GenBank and identify the species), and among the readable ones - 12% were from the Bartramiaceae family, and 88% were from the Lamiaceae family. A substantial number of these plants are non-woody species which is very interesting (and important!) as the spotted lanternfly is considered to be a predominant tree pest. Looking forward to our work on this grant and more sequencing!!