Disease-Infected Thrips Feed More

Thrips — tiny insects that pierce and suck fluids from tomatoes, strawberries, and hundreds of other plant species — show altered feeding behavior when they’re infected with tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), newly published research by University of California (UC) scientists reveals.

Male Western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) infected with TSWV fed up to three times more than uninfected males, according to the research, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by UC-Davis plant pathology doctoral candidate Candice Stafford and entomologists Gregory Walker of UC-Riverside and Diane Ullman of UC-Davis.

“Until now, behavioral changes in plant virus vectors have been observed only as a response to plant-host infection, and there have been no examples of vector infection with a plant virus altering feeding behavior,” the scientists wrote.

“Since plants do not move around to come in contact with one another, virus transmission from one host plant to another was a major hurdle for plant-infecting viruses to overcome,” said Walker, UC-Riverside professor of entomology. “To overcome this problem, most plant viruses have exploited the mobility of herbivorous insects, especially piercing-sucking insects, as a vehicle for transport from one plant to another.”

Walker said the study “demonstrates for the first time that a plant-infecting virus not only uses an insect for transport from an infected host to a new host, but also manipulates the behavior of the insect on the new host in order to maximize the probability that it will be successfully inoculated.”

Earlier research showed that males transmit TSWV more efficiently than females and that animal-infecting members of the virus family, Bunyaviridae — in which TSWV is classified — alter the feeding of their vectors.

Compelled by this knowledge, the UC scientists asked whether TSWV, a plant-infecting bunyavirus, may modify the feeding behavior of its vector, the Western flower thrips. When they examined infected and uninfected male and female thrips, infected males made almost three times more probes into the plants than uninfected males, including three times more non-ingestion probes (probes in which they salivate, but leave cells largely undamaged).

“These probes are especially important because TSWV infection requires a functional cell, so this probing behavior is predictive of virus transmission,” said Ullman, UC-Davis professor of entomology and associate dean for undergraduate academic programs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“I have always been intrigued by how parasites alter the behaviors of their vectors, and thought it was odd that such behavioral alterations have not been reported for vectors of plant infecting viruses,” said Stafford, whose major professor is Ullman. “Although several plant viruses infect their insect vectors, we have shown that vector infection by a plant virus alters feeding behavior, which has major implications for virus transmission.”

An increase in the number of times an insect probes into a plant increases the probability of virus transmission, the scientists noted. “Uninfected male thrips make very few probes and therefore their feeding behaviors are not conducive to virus transmission,” said Stafford. “However, when male thrips are infected with TSWV they make up to three times more probes than uninfected males and are more efficient vectors than female thrips. We hypothesize that this increase in feeding may also result in increased nutrition to counterbalance negative impacts virus infection has on fitness.”

Said Ullman: “We were also fascinated by the possibility that modification of vector-feeding behavior could be a conserved trait among plant and animal-infecting members of the Bunyaviridae that evolved as a mechanism to enhance virus transmission. The outcome of our research deeply underscores the evolutionary importance of vector behavioral modification to parasites infecting hosts in both plant and animal kingdoms.”

The research was supported by the UC-Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the graduate program of the UC-Davis Department of Plant Pathology.

Click here to read the full article.

Source: University of California Newsroom

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

All Vegetables Stories >All Fruits Stories >All Nuts Stories >All Citrus Stories >

The Latest

BerriesReal Estate Firm, Wish Farms Strike Large Land Deal
October 1, 2014
$13.8 million transaction includes more than 800 acres acquired from longtime Central Florida produce operation. Read More
VegetablesFind The Right Market For Your Crops
October 1, 2014
Getting to know the demographics of your market is key to maximizing your return on investment. Read More
Insect ControlBagrada Bug And Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Posing Threa…
October 1, 2014
Two species of stink bugs are now posing a serious threat to agricultural production in the Western U.S.: the brown Read More
OrganicResearchers Breeding Organic Tomato Varieties Receive $…
October 1, 2014
Purdue University accepts funding to lead multi-institution research to breed organic varieties that will resist foliar diseases. Read More
Vegetables14 Quality Cabbage Varieties [Slideshow]
October 1, 2014
Browse the slideshow below for information on cabbage varieties from the nation’s leading seed breeders and distributors. Read More
FruitsOrganic And Local Food Economies Receive More Than $52 …
October 1, 2014
Most of the grants were authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More
Insect ControlMore Than 600,000 Acres Removed From Golden Nematode Re…
October 1, 2014
The potato acreage was taken off the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s list; under 6,000 acres in New York are still considered to be infested. Read More
Crop ProtectionTool Helps Track Insects On The Move At Night
October 1, 2014
Signals collected by the National Weather Service’s Doppler radar network may serve as an early warning system to track corn earworm, a major pest in sweet corn. Read More
NutsNew Walnut Budding, Grafting, and Planting Video Releas…
October 1, 2014
Lake County nurseryman Alex Suchan, who has been grafting trees for two-thirds of a century, is the star. Read More
GenNext GrowersGrowers Need To Be Mindful When Dealing With The Media
October 1, 2014
When being interviewed for a story, preparation is the foundation to help you successfully get your point across. Read More
Citrus Achievement AwardSharing Is Caring When It Comes To Curing Citrus Greeni…
October 1, 2014
Mike Sparks, 2014 Citrus Achievement Award winner, says being open with peers about what's working and not working is crucial in managing HLB. Read More
Florida Ag ExpoKnow How To Knock Back Nematodes
October 1, 2014
The 2014 Florida Ag Expo will provide critical tips in soilborne pest management. Read More
CEU SeriesCEU Series: Vow To Vanquish Weeds Among Vegetables
October 1, 2014
Herbicidal neglect can and will kill your crops. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateUF Names Interim Director For Citrus Research And Educa…
September 30, 2014
Michael Rogers has been a central figure in Florida’s battle to survive greening. Read More
BerriesPractice Persistence When Battling Botrytis In Blueberr…
September 30, 2014
Cognizance of resistance is key to managing formidable fungus. Read More
CitrusFarming Is Quite The Scary Prospect For Some [Opinion]
September 30, 2014
Florida Grower managing editor Paul Rusnak says economic realities might frighten off future leaders from noble professions. Read More
FruitsNew Suppress Herbicide Gets Green Light From EPA
September 30, 2014
Approval gives organic growers new weed management tool. Read More
BerriesNew Fill-By-Weight Clamshell Filler For Blueberries
September 30, 2014
Lakewood Process Machinery's equipment offers a simplified user interface, minimized drop heights, a new dribble-gate system designed for an increased level of accuracy. Read More