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The Role of Esterases in Parathion Poisoning of Eggs of the Large Milkweed Bug

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The milkweed bug egg is strikingly insensitive to the ovicidal action of parathion, although nymphs hatching from treated eggs die shortly after hatching. The role of esterases in toxicity was studied, using manometric techniques to determine gross inhibition and histochemical technique to determine the location of esterases involved and levels of inhibition. Inhibition levels determined by the 2 techniques were not in close agreement, suggesting that identical esterases were not being measured by the 2 assay methods.

Aliesterase and cholinesterase (ChE) activity was measured manometrically and in both cases inhibition was found to be low prior to hatch of treated eggs. Following hatching, inhibition rose sharply and coincided with the onset of toxic symptoms. The parallel between inhibition and toxic symptoms did not clearly implicate one enzyme over the other.

By contrast, histochemical assay showed close agreement between toxic symptoms and cholinesterase inhibition; inhibition of aliesterase occurred only in advanced stages of poisoning, and no inhibition of aromatic esterase occurred in any stage of poisoning. The weight of evidence, particularly that obtained by histochemical technique, appears to implicate ChE as the enzyme involved in toxic action. The results suggest that cross reference by histochemical and manometric techniques, an approach which holds promise in elucidating the iole of esterases, cannot be employed effectively until more definitive characterization of esterases is established.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 1965

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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