Morphology of the Digestive and Reproductive Systems of Dalbulus maidis and Graminella nigrifrons (Homoptera: Cicadellidae)

James H. Tsai and Joan L. Perrier


The corn leafhopper, Dalbulus maidis (DeLong and Wolcott) (Homoptera: Cicadellidae) is the principal vector of maize rayado fino marafivirus, corn stunt spiroplasma and maize bushy stunt phytoplasma in tropical and subtropical areas of the Western Hemisphere. The black-faced leafhopper, Graminella nigrifrons (Fobes) (Homoptera: Cicadellidae) is the principal vector of maize chlorotic dwarf waikavirus in North America. The morphology of their digestive and reproductive systems was studied by light microscopy, and illustrations were made to aid in dissection and injection of pathogenic inoculum for various vector-pathogen relation studies. In both species, two salivary glands, located one on each side of the head, extend into the mesothorax. Each gland consists of principal and accessory glands. The former contains an anterior lobe and posterior lobe. Two types of acini are present in the anterior lobe, whereas the posterior lobe has four acini. The accessory glands of D. maidis and G. nigrifrons are very similar rod to elbow-shaped structures. The esophagus of both species is a narrow tube originating from the pharynx and extending to the anterior midgut below the filter chamber. The anterior midgut is a large sac-like structure extending from the metathorax through the entire length of the abdomen, and then ascends backward to the anterior of the midgut to form the filter chamber. The filter chamber of D. maidis has a more complex structure than that of G. nigrifrons. There are two pairs of Malpighian tubules in both species. The central tubule is formed from a pair of fused tubules within the filter chamber; the other tubules extend along the front of the hindgut. In G. nigrifrons the three tubules run parallel to each other along the top of the posterior midgut. In D. maidis, the central tubule and one tubule from the other pair run along the interior of the deep loop of the posterior midgut; the other tubule runs along the exterior of the loop. The ovaries of both species contain six ovarioles. Each ovariole consists of a terminal filament, a germarium, developing oocytes and eggs within follicles and a pedicle. The ovarioles contain six follicles. In G. nigrifrons each ovariole usually contains only one egg within the last follicle whereas the ovarioles of D. maidis often contain two eggs. The ovarioles open into the lateral oviduct, common oviduct and the vagina. The spermathecae open into the common oviduct. A collaterial gland and accessory glands are present. The male of both species has two lateral testes each with six follicles. A pair of accessory glands arise at the posterior of each seminal vesicle and open into the lateral ejaculatory duct.

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