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A Precise and Quantifiable Method for Collecting Hemolymph from Small Arthropods

Published: April 28th, 2023



1State Key Laboratory of Plant Genomics, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2CAS Center for Excellence in Biotic Interactions, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences

We describe a method to collect quantifiable hemolymph efficiently from small arthropods for subsequent analysis.

Arthropods are known to transmit a variety of viruses of medical and agricultural importance through their hemolymph, which is essential for virus transmission. Hemolymph collection is the basic technology for studying virus-vector interactions. Here, we describe a novel and simple method for the quantitative collection of hemolymph from small arthropods using Laodelphax striatellus (the small brown planthopper, SBPH) as a research model, as this arthropod is the main vector of rice stripe virus (RSV). In this protocol, the process begins by gently pinching off one leg of the frozen arthropod with fine-tipped tweezers and pressing the hemolymph out of the wound. Then, a simple micropipette consisting of a capillary and a pipette bulb is used to collect the transudative hemolymph from the wound according to the principle of capillary forces. Finally, the collected hemolymph can be dissolved into a specific buffer for further study. This new method for collecting hemolymph from small arthropods is a useful and efficient tool for further research on arboviruses and vector-virus interactions.

Both animal and plant viruses can be transmitted by arthropods, and these viruses pose a severe threat to human health and cause tremendous economic losses in agriculture1,2,3. Importantly, the arthropod hemolymph, which serves as the circulatory system and a vital element of the immune system in arthropods, plays an important role in regulating arboviral transmission. Viruses acquired through the arthropod guts are transported to other tissues only after successfully escaping the adverse hemolymph environment4,5....

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1. Insect rearing

  1. Raise the SBPHs used in this experiment in rice seedlings (Oryza sativa cv. Nipponbare). Plant 20 rice seedlings in an incubator (65 mm x 200 mm), and grow at 25 °C under a 16 h light/8 h dark photoperiod.

2. Dissection of the SBPHs for hemolymph collection

  1. Put the SBPHs into a centrifuge tube, and place them in an ice bath for 10-30 min.
    NOTE: Do not place the SBPHs in the ice bath for less.......

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Micropipette model and hemolymph collection
We have developed a simple micropipette whose action is based on the capillary forces of the capillary tube. The micropipette is composed of a capillary tube and a pipette bulb (Figure 1A). Capillary tubes are available in different volume sizes ranging from 1 µL to 20 µL, and the capillary tube volumes are selected according to the requirements. Capillary tubes with smaller volumes are not suggested because the ext.......

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Hemolymph is the medium of the circulatory system in arthropods, and arboviruses can only invade other arthropod tissues if they are able to survive the hostile hemolymph environment. Collecting a high-quality sample of hemolymph is the first step in studying the vector-virus interactions that occur in the hemolymph. It has been reported that insect hemolymph can be obtained from several sites on the insect's body, including a wound on the front leg, a minor incision in the head area, or a tear wound at the abdomen

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This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (No. 2022YFD1401700) and by the National Science Foundation of China (No. 32090013 and No. 32072385).


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
10% SDS-PAGE protein gel Bio-rad 4561035 Protein separation and detection
4% paraformaldehyde Solarbio P1110 For fixation of the cells or tissues 
Bradford dye reagent Bio-rad 5000205 Protein concentration detection
Capillary Hirschmann 9000101 For collecting hemolymph
Cell counting chamber ACMEC AYA0810 Hemocytes counting
Glass slide Gitoglas 10127105A For holding insects
Glass slide coated with silane Sigma S4651-72EA For holding microscope samples
Gold antifade reagent with DAPI Invitrogen P36935 Nucleus staining
Microscope cover glass Gitoglas 10212424C For microscopic observation
Pipette bulb Hirschmann 9000101 For collecting hemolymph
Prism 8.0 software GraphPad Software / Statistical analyses
Stereomicroscope  Motic SMZ-168 For insect dissection
Tweezers Tianld P5622 For insect dissection
Zeiss inverted microscope Zeiss Observer Z1 Hemocytes observation

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