On 26 September, the Xylella files Autumn Webinars will host Elio Challita from the MIT Microbotics Lab to learn more about the mechanics of sharpshooter honeydew excretion. The glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis) feeds on plant xylem and is a known vector of Xylella fastidiosa in North America.
Feeding and waste removal are essential functions for living things. While the effects of feeding on animal form and function have been studied extensively since Darwin, how excretion shapes animal behaviour, size and energy use remains largely unexplored. Challita’s team combined mathematical modelling, CFD simulations and biophysical experiments to elucidate how the mode of excretion is functional for the survival of insects on a highly energy-limited xylem diet.