- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The article, “Genome-Enabled Insights into the Biology of Thrips as Crop Pests,” is published in the journal BMC Biology. It is the work of 57 scientists on five continents.
“This project represents over eight years of work by at least 17 laboratories across the globe,” said Professor Ullman, a former chair of the entomology department and a fellow of the Entomological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her laboratory worked closely with project leader and first author Dorith Rotenberg of North Carolina State University. Project scientist Sulley Ben-Mahmoud of the Ullman lab is the paper's third author.
The western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis, causes billions of dollars a year in damage worldwide. Native to Western North America and about the size of a pinhead, the insect feeds on a wide array of food, fiber, and ornamental crops and transmits plant viruses that cause significant economic damage.
“The western flower thrips and the viruses it transmits, including tomato spotted wilt virus, is important to California agriculture, causing serious problems for tomato growers, pepper growers and growers of leafy greens,” Ullman said. The tomato spotted wilt virus infects more than 1000 plant species, ranging from tomatoes, tobacco and peanuts to pansies and chrysanthemums.
“This system has been a central element of my research program for over 30 years," Ullman said, "and I am extremely excited to see this important resource made available as a tool to help us understand and control these important pests.”
In their abstract, the authors wrote that the publication should lead to “understanding the underlying genetic mechanisms of the processes governing thrips pest and vector biology, feeding behaviors, ecology, and insecticide resistance.”
This is the first genome sequence and analysis for a member of the Thysanoptera, an order that contains more than 7,000 species of small insects with fringed wings.
(See more information on the project on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website)
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
They're pests of fruits, vegetable and horticultural crops, including tomatoes, grapes, strawberries and soybeans. They're barely visible to the naked eye, but oh, how disastrous they can be. Some thrips transmit plant diseases, such as the tomato spotted wilt virus.
Kennedy, the William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Agriculture at North Carolina State University. Raleigh, N.C., will speak on "Modeling the Epidemiology of Tomato Spotted Wilt: Understanding the Role of Thrips Population Dynamics and Virus Inoculum Sources" from 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, April 1 in 122 Briggs Hall, as part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's winter seminar series.
Colleague/collaborator DianeUllman will introduce him.
"Effective management of this virus in commercial crop production systems requires an understanding of the factors that determine the timing and magnitude of virus spread. This seminar will discuss the ways in which seasonal weather events influence the dispersal dynamics of vector thrips populations, the abundance of virus inoculum sources in the landscape, and ultimately the timing and magnitude of TSWV spread into susceptible crops. It will further provide an illustration of how efforts to model these relationships improved understanding of the epidemiology of TSWV and led to the development of a TSWV risk prediction tool that is now being used in pest management decision making."
Kennedy, past president of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), holds a bachelor's degree in entomology from Oregon State University and a doctorate in entomology from Cornell University. See his biosketch on the ESA website.
Ullman and Kennedy are among those organizing two consecutive mid-May conferences at the Asilomar Conference Center, Pacific Grove. International scientists, Extension specialists, and agricultural industry professionals will target thrips and insect-vectored pathogens.
The second conference is the Xth International Symposium on Thysanoptera and Tospoviruses, to be held May 16-20. "This meeting is the tenth in a series of international symposia that, over 30 years, have grown to be the dominant vehicle and venue for information exchange between scientists investigating problems related to thrips and tospoviruses around the world," Ullman said. "These symposia have been instrumental in extending knowledge and producing new solutions and innovations in thrips and tospovirus management worldwide, by providing a forum for sharing research findings and integrating fundamental and applied knowledge.
And about those thrips...
The tiny insects pierce hundreds of species of plants, sucking the nutrients and causing billions of dollars in damage to U.S. agricultural crops. As mentioned, they transmit plant viruses in the genus Tospovirus, such as the tomato spotted wilt virus. Read more on the UC IPM website.
“There are 23 additional approved and emerging tospovirus genotypes transmitted by at least 14 thrips species (Thysanoptera: Thripidae),” said Ullman, who has been researching thrips and tospoviruses since 1987.
That's something to think about when you're planting your tomatoes this spring...