Identification of potential host plants of sap-sucking insects (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) using anchored hybrid by-catch data

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Reliable host plant records are available for only a small fraction of herbivorous insect species, despite their potential agricultural importance. Most available data on insect–plant associations have been obtained through field observations of occurrences of insects on particular plants. Molecular methods have more recently been used to identify potential host plants using DNA extracted from insects, but most prior studies using these methods have focused on chewing insects that ingest tissues expected to contain large quantities of plant DNA. Screening of Illumina data obtained from sap feeders of the hemipteran family Cicadellidae (leafhoppers) using anchored hybrid enrichment indicates that, despite feeding on plant fluids, these insects often contain detectable quantities of plant DNA. Although inclusion of probes for bacterial 16S in the original anchored hybrid probe kit yielded relatively high detection rates for chloroplast 16S, the Illumina short reads also, in some cases, included DNA for various plant barcode genes as “by-catch”. Detection rates were generally only slightly higher for Typhlocybinae, which feed preferentially on parenchyma cell contents, compared to other groups of leafhoppers that feed preferentially on phloem or xylem. These results indicate that next-generation sequencing provides a powerful tool to investigate the specific association between individual insect and plant species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number964
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Anchored hybrid enrichment
  • Host plants
  • Insect–plant association
  • Leafhoppers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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