Lygus hesperus Knight (Hemiptera: Miridae) is an economically important insect pest controlled primarily by chemical pesticides. Bacillus thuringiensis Berliner is a gram-positive bacterium, which upon sporulation produces a parasporal inclusion body, the crystal. The latter, in some strains, exhibits specific insecticidal activities against lepidopteran, coleopteran, or dipteran pests. The aim of the present work was to develop a Bacillus thuringiensis-based assay on L. hesperus. Several factors involved in the expression of the B. thuringiensis insecticidal activity were assayed for their effects on L. hesperus mortality. We show that the choice of the L. hesperus diet type, the L. hesperus developmental stages, the B. thuringiensis crystal alkaline solubilization buffers, the dialysis buffers, the dialyzed solubilization buffers, and the proteolytic activation can all significantly affect the L. hesperus viability. This work provides essential information in pinpointing key steps before the establishment of a thorough screening program for B. thuringiensis strains expressing antihemipteran activity.
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Vol. 98 • No. 5