Insect Saliva Lowers the Quality of Italian Bread Wheat

Damaged Grain

Damaged Grain


Sunn Pest

Sunn Pest

Italian bread dough is famous for its high quality. Several insect species feed on the wheat plants in the field and when they do, they leave a little saliva behind, which would lower the quality of the bread if insecticides aren’t used.

“Several species known as sunn pests or cereal bugs, have long been recognized as detrimental to wheat bread-making quality in south central Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. … In Italy, severe infestations of sunn pests have been reported in southern regions and also, although seldom, in the Po Valley.”

“For a long time, it has been recognized that damaged grains can show a discolored area around the point of stylet penetration and that flour derived from damaged kernels produces sticky dough and poor bread. The detrimental effect on baking quality is obvious even in presence of 3-5% damaged kernels and dramatically increases for values higher than 10%. The quality depletion is due to proteolytic enzymes injected in the kernels by insects via their saliva that persist in the flour after milling and cause breakdown of gluten structure in the dough.”

“Presently, no sources of resistance to E. Maura in Italian germplasm are known; thus the only way of reducing the damage is chemical pest control in the field.”

Authors: P. Vaccino1, M. Corbellini1, G. Reffo1, G. Zoccatelli2
, M. Migliardi3 and L. Tavella3
Affiliation: 1Instituto Sperimentale per la Cerealicoltura, Angelo Lodigiano, Italy; 2Dipartmento Scientifico e Tecnologico, University of Verona, Italy; 3University of Torino, Grugliasco, Italy.
Title: Impact of Eurygaster maura (Heteroptera: Scutelleridae) feeding on quality of bread wheat in relation to attack period.
Publication: Journal of Economic Entomology. 2006. 99(3):757-763.

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