Interfaces between microbes and membranes of host epithelial cells in hemipteran midguts

James B. Nardi, Lou Ann Miller, Charles Mark Bee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Certain families of plant-feeding insects in the order Hemiptera (infraorder Pentatomomorpha) have established symbiotic relationships with microbes that inhabit specific pouches (caeca) of their midgut epithelium. The placement of these caeca in a well-delineated region at the most posterior end of the midgut bordering the hindgut is conserved in these families; in situ the convoluted midgut is predictably folded so that this caecal region lies adjacent to the anterior-most region of the midgut. Depending on the hemipteran family, caeca vary in their number and configuration at a given anterior–posterior location. At the host-microbe interface, epithelial plasma membranes of midgut epithelial cells interact with nonself antigens of microbial surfaces. In the different hemipteran species examined, a continuum of interactions is observed between microbes and host membranes. Bacteria can exist as free living cells within the midgut lumen without contacting host membranes while other host cells physically interact extensively with microbial surfaces by extending numerous processes that interdigitate with microbes; and, in many instances, processes completely envelope the microbes. The host cells can embrace the foreign microbes, completely enveloping each with a single host membrane or sometimes enveloping each with the two additional host membranes of a phagosome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1046-1060
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Morphology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Hemiptera
  • autophagy
  • innate immunity
  • midgut caeca
  • midgut epithelium
  • midgut microbiota

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Developmental Biology


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