UC Davis integrated pest management (IPM) specialist Frank Zalom distinguished professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and research biologist Mysore "Sudhi" Sudarshana of the USDA's Agriculture Research Services (ARS), based in the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology, directed the eye-opening research.
Fast forward to today: It's just been announced that U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) has awarded a four-year, $3 million grant, "Ecobiology, Impact, and Management of Grapevine Red Blotch Virus and Its Vector(s) in California and Oregon Vineyards," to UC Davis scientists.
The grapevine red blotch virus is an urgent problem that threatens the $162 billion grape industry.
Now UC Davis scientists, in collaboration with UC Berkeley and Oregon State University researchers, are targeting the virus and its vector or vectors.
“Red blotch is a huge new problem for the grape industry, and this is the first large government grant to study it,” said project director Anita Oberholster, Cooperative Extension specialist in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology. “We will be working in partnership to take the first steps to understand the disease and develop sustainable management practices to support the grape industry.”
First identified in 2012, the disease affects grapevines of all varieties and is internationally present. Symptoms typically include red blotches on the leaves of red varieties, and pale green or pale yellow blotches on white varieties.
"Although our knowledge of red blotch virus and its spread has improved in the short period of time since it was first discovered, there are still many questions to be answered in order to understand its epidemiology and develop an effective management strategy," Zalom said. "For example, we need to understand mechanisms for how the virus affects grapevines, and if there are additional vectors."
In their successful grant application, the scientists wrote that grapevine red blotch virus (GRBV) is a prominent disease found in the majority of grape growing regions in California and Oregon. "The grape industry currently lacks best practices for detecting and preventing spread of GRBV within and among vineyards. The discovery of S. festinus as a vector of GRBV significantly increased the possibility of better understanding the epidemiology of GRBD and ultimately its management. However, GRBD spread also occurs in vineyards where S. festinus has not been found. Therefore, information on potential additional vector species in these regions is paramount."
"Replanted vineyards in California and Oregon have experienced reinfections and a better understanding on the prevalence of GRBV and assessment of risk factors are needed," they wrote. "Proposed research will address knowledge gaps involving the epidemiology of the virus as driven by studies on its vectors and determining how the disease affects grapevine performance and grape quality. The economic impact of GRBV infection on producers and nurseries will also be determined. Sustainable GRBV management strategies developed from the project will be implemented to enhance economic and social impacts and to reduce the impact on environment. This project brings together researchers, extension specialists and stakeholders from CA and OR to help solve a significant new problem facing this valuable specialty crops industry. Outreach activities will be extended to the other states and can thus impact the grape industry in the country."
(UC Davis News Service contributed to this piece)
"The spotted-wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, first invaded California in 2008," says UC Davis postdoctoral researcher Brian Gress, "and has since rapidly spread throughout North America and Europe."
Gress will discuss "Host Selection and Resistance Evolution in Drosophila Suzukii" at a UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 9 in 122 Briggs Hall.
He will be introduced by his advisor, integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and a past president of the Entomological Society of America.
"The female D. suzukii possess a unique serrated ovipositor that allows them to cut into ripening fruit, causing major economic losses for berry and cherry producers across the globe," Gress writes in his abstract. "Growers rely heavily on the use of insecticides to control this pest, and spinosad is among the most important materials currently available for protecting susceptible host crops."
Recent reports, however, "have raised concerns that the efficacy of this insecticide is declining in fields near Watsonville, Calif., a major hub of commercial berry production in the United States," Gress says. "In this seminar, I will present a series of studies aimed at assessing the degree of resistance in the population, the evolutionary potential for resistance to increase, and novel strategies for managing resistance in the field."
The spotted-wing drosophila, a major agricultural pest, damages fruit in many California counties, according to the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Program (UC IPM). "The males have a black spot toward the top of each wing. The females have not spots. They have "a very prominent, sawlike ovipositor for laying eggs in fruit."
Gress joined the Zalom lab in January 2017. He lists his research aims as
- understand the evolutionary processes and genetic mechanisms that give rise to insecticide resistance in agricultural pests;
- develop sustainable and cost-effective strategies for managing agricultural pests by disrupting insect mating behavior and reproductive physiology; and
- assess population dynamics and demography of wild insect populations in the field.
Gress holds bachelor of science degrees in biology and psychology, magna cum laude, from Iowa State University, Ames (2011), and a doctorate in biological science from Syracuse (N.Y.) University (2016).
At Syracuse, Gress received the 2016 Alexander Gourevitch Memorial Award, in recognition of research excellence; and the 2016 College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Dissertation Award. In 2015 he was awarded a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant of $19,050.
"It" is the three-cornered alfalfa hopper, Spissistilus festinus, a lear-winged, wedge-shaped (thus the name "three-cornered") insect that's about a quarter of an inch long. That's about the size of a pomegranate seed.
And the spotlight will shine on the hopper on Wednesday, Dec. 5 when Cindy Preto--who recently received her master's degree in entomology from the University of California, Davis, studying with major professor Frank Zalom--delivers a UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar.
Preto's hourlong seminar, titled “Behavior and Biology of the Three-Cornered Alfalfa Hopper in Vineyards," begins at 4:10 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, located on Kleiber Hall Drive. Preto received her bachelor's degree in viticulture and enology, with an entomology minor in agricultural pest management, from UC Davis in 2014.
Zalom, a distinguished professor in the department, a former director of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), and a past president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA), will introduce her.
Back in October of 2016, UC Davis-based research on the three-cornered alfalfa hopper and the Grapevine Red Blotch Disease grabbed the headlines. It made the cover story of a special focus issue, "Disease Management in the Genomics Era," in the journal Phytopathology.
Zalom and research biologist Mysore "Sudhi" Sudarshana of the USDA's Agriculture Research Services (ARS), who is based in the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology, led the research.
In 2015, the Zalom team hypothesized that the three-cornered alfalfa hopper could transmit the Grapevine Red Blotch-associated virus, GRBaV, "based in part on phylogeneic analysis of coat protein sequences of 23 geminiviruses that revealed that GRBaV-CP was most similar to that of another geminivirus that was transmitted by another treehopper," explained Zalom, a distinguished professor of entomology with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and a past president of the Entomological Society of America
Their research, published in the journal, confirms that the alfalfa hopper “was able to both acquire the virus from a grapevine infested with GRBaV and transmit the virus to healthy grapevines in the laboratory.”
“In commercial vineyards, lateral shoots of grapevines girdled due to feed injury by the adult three-cornered alfalfa hopper also tested positive for the virus using digital PCR,” the scientists noted in their abstract. “These findings represent an important step in understanding the biology of GRBaV and develop management guidelines.”
The disease, first noticed in 2008 and attributed to a newly identified virus in 2012, is present in many major grape production regions of the United States and Canada. It can reduce fruit quality and ripening. (See this UC IPM document, written by Zalom and his colleagues.)
The scientific name, Spissistilus festinus, sounds a little festive--especially when mentioned during the holiday season.
Names can be deceiving.
More than 2000 scientists are registered to attend the meeting, to be held Sept. 2-6 in Gramado, Brazil.
UC Davis scientists delivering plenary addresses will be Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and a past president of the Entomological Society of America (ESA); Walter Leal, distinguished professor, UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and a past chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology; and Joanna Chiu, associate professor and vice chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. More than 2000 attendees are registered.
On behalf of ESA, Zalom is co-organizing and co-chairing a joint conference with Antonio Panizzi, a past president and international delegate of the Entomological Society of Brazil. That event, to take place the day before the XXVII Congresso Brasileiro and X Congresso Latino-Americano meeting, will involve developing a “Grand Challenge Agenda for Entomology in South America.
Zalom will speak on “The American Experience with the Grand Challenge Agenda in Entomology.” In addition, ESA president Michael Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Idaho and a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will provide an update on the 2018 ESA annual meeting, set Nov. 11-14 in Vancouver, B. C. Speakers also will include the presidents of the entomological societies of Argentina, Peru and Brazil.
Leal, a native of Brazil, will present the opening lecture of the joint conference of the XXVII Brazilian Congress and X Latin American Congress of Entomology on “Insect Vectors: Science with Applications in Agriculture and Medicine,” on Sunday, Sept. 2. This will be his fourth opening lecture—a record—at the Brazilian Congresses of Entomology (2004 in Gramado; 2008 in Uberlandia; and 2014 in Goiania). As an aside, legendary entomologist Marcos Kogan previously held the record: he presented two opening lectures, one in 1983 and another in 2002. Both Leal and Kogan (professor emeritus of agricultural entomology, University of Illinois and professor emeritus, Oregon State University) were elected ESA fellows; Leal in 2009 and Kogan in 2016. Zalom received the honor in 2008.
Zalom, an integrated pest management specialist, and former director of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) and Chiu, who specializes in molecular genetics of animal behavior, will speak on their research at the joint meeting. Zalom will deliver a plenary address on “Drosophila suzukii in the United States” on Sept. 5, and Chiu will keynote a symposium on Sept. 3; her lecture is titled “Circadian Clock Research Applied to Agriculture and Public Health.” She will give a second lecture: "Drosophila as an Insect Model" on Sept. 3.
The spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is a serious pest of fruit crops. Most drosophila flies feed on spoiled fruits, but SWD prefers fresh fruit (berries and soft-skinned fruits). Read more about SWD on the UC IPM website.
the largest and most cited of the family of scientific journals published by the Entomological Society of the America (ESA).
He succeeds John Trumble, distinguished professor of entomology at UC Riverside, who announced last year he would be leaving his 20-year post as editor-in-chief in 2018.
Following an intensive search, ESA announced this week that Frank Zalom, a past president of the 7000-member ESA-- and highly skilled in basic biology and applied entomology--will fill that position. He will serve a five-year term. The journal publishes research on the economic significance of insects. It includes sections on apiculture and social insects, insecticides, biological control, household and structural insects, crop protection, forest entomology, and other topics.
Zalom's 40-year career intersects entomological research, teaching, and application. He served 16 years as director of the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), considered the gold standard of IPM programs. He is the only entomologist in the UC system to receive a simultaneous appointment in teaching, research, and extension. Zalom focuses his research on IPM of agricultural crops.
The UC Davis entomologist's career is closely connected with ESA. He's a 43-year member. He served as president in 2014. He's also a past president of the Entomological Foundation (2015) and continues to serve as a member of the Entomological Foundation board of directors and ESA's Science Policy Committee. More regionally, he served as president of the Pacific Branch of ESA (PBESA) and received the coveted C. W.Woodworth Award, the organization's highest honor.
"I couldn't be more pleased to be selected the next editor-in-chief of the Journal of Economic Entomology," Zalom said. "I have spent the last 40 years of my career trying to solve economically important problems caused by arthropods using an IPM approach, and this journal, as well as ESA's other journals, have always served as a primary foundation and outlet for research conducted in my lab. As I approach the end of my career, I hope to be able to dedicate my efforts to enhancing our Society's influence on science and its application to addressing some of the most important entomological challenges that affect communities worldwide. JEE is uniquely positioned to do exactly that."
Zalom, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1978, holds two degrees in zoology and ecology from Arizona State University (bachelor of science, 1973, and master's degree, 1974). He joined the UC system in 1980, serving in roles ranging from extension IPM coordinator to professor to vice chair of the department to advisor of the UC Davis International Agricultural Development Graduate Group. He has authored more than 335 journal articles and book chapters. including "Food, Crop Pests, and the Environment" published by APS Press. His career includes serving as major professor for 12 Ph.D students and seven master's degree students.
In March of this year, Zalom received a lifetime achievement award, presented at the 9th International IPM Symposium in Baltimore, where officials noted that Frank Zalom's beliefs for IPM are four-fold:
- To solve pest control problems using effective, biologically-based pest management approaches
- To provide IPM leadership at the regional, state, national and international levels
- To provide a vigorous research program in entomology, especially related to IPM and invasive species; and
- To educate a new generation of IPM practitioners through effective undergraduate teaching and graduate student mentoring.
It was also pointed out at the symposium that "Frank has pursued these goals through a combination of fundamental studies related to pest biology, physiology, and community ecology; problem-focused, hypothesis-driven management research; and community-oriented extension efforts. His research focuses on exploiting weaknesses in the biology of a pest species and its niche in the agroecosystem or the broader landscape. He builds multidisciplinary research and outreach teams to pursue innovative ideas needed to solve major IPM challenges. His lab's research has addressed seventeen invasive species introductions: among them southern green stink bug, silverleaf whitefly, glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fly, invasive salt cedar, light brown apple moth, spotted wing drosophila, and most recently European grape vine moth, brown marmorated stink bug and Bagrada bug." (See more about his career on UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website.)
Zalom is a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Entomological Society, and ESA. Among his numerous honors: a Fulbright Senior Research Scholarship (1992-93), the ESA Achievement Award in Extension (1992), the ESA Recognition Award (2002), the James H. Meyer Award from UC Davis for teaching, research and service (2004), the Entomological Foundation IPM Team Award (2008), the Entomological Foundation Excellence in IPM Award (2010), Outstanding Mentor Award from the UC Davis Consortium for Women and Research (2013).
The ESA, founded in 1889 and headquartered in Annapolis, Md., is the world's largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines.