The southern green stink bug (SGSB) Nezara viridula L. is one of the most common stink bug species in the United States and can cause significant yield loss in a variety of crops. A suitable marker for the assessment of gene-editing tools in SGSB has yet to be characterized. The white gene, first documented in Drosophila, has been a useful target to assess the efficiency of introduced mutations in many species as it controls pigmentation processes and mutants display readily identifiable phenotypes. In this study we used the RNAi technique to investigate functions and phenotypes associated with the white ortholog in the SGSB and to validate white as a marker for genetic transformation in this species. This study revealed that white may be a suitable marker for germline transformation in the SGSB as white transcript knockdown was not lethal, did not impair embryo development and provided a distinguishable phenotype. Our results demonstrated that the white ortholog in SGSB is involved in the pathway for ommochrome synthesis and suggested additional functions of this gene such as in the integument composition, management of hemolymph compounds and riboflavin mobilization.
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