Living On Uric Acid

Brown Plant Hopper
Photo: IRRI

The brown planthopper, Nilaparvata lugens is a pest of rice, feeding on phloem and transmitting plant viruses. Phloem is rich in sugars but poor in amino acids and proteins. The amino acids in the plant sap are not balanced in the proportions needed by the planthopper. The plant hopper consumes excess of some amino acids. The nitrogen from those amino acids is processed into uric acid. Unlike other insects that eliminate the uric acid as waste, the plant hopper stores uric acid.

Nilaparvata lugens hosts symbionts that can metabolize uric acid. In periods of starvation, the symbionts can metabolize the uric acid to release ammonia used in the synthesis of amino acids.

M.J. O’Donnell and Andrew Donini. Nitrogen Excretion and Metabolism in Insects. In: Acid-Base Balance and Nitrogen Excretion in Invertebrates pp 109-126.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Living On Uric Acid

  1. Pingback: Living On Uric Acid – Entomo Planet

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