Beyond the Flying Syringe–How Insects Specifically Vector Viruses

For September 26, 2018        
“Mosquitoes troublesome” is one of the most frequently-repeated phrases in the journals of Lewis & Clark.  Things have not changed much since 1804:  mosquitoes still suck. And therein lies the rub. For mosquitoes are more than trouble: they’re deadly. They carry diseases like yellow fever to humans and encephalitis to animals. Sometimes they spread diseases from animals to humans. Yet not all blood-borne viruses and bacteria of humans are transmitted by blood-sucking insects. Similarly with crops:  insects such as aphids or thrips can move pathogens from plant to plant, cutting yield & quality, sometimes spreading hunger, sometimes speeding famine. But not all aphids that suck on plants move viruses; and not all viruses in a plant will necessarily be moved by an aphid. Ninety years ago Isme Hoggan of Plant Pathology used this specificity to pioneer ways to distinguish between two viruses co-infecting a plant by using aphids to move only one virus to a healthy plant. So skeeters and aphids are more than flying syringes, but what are the keys to their specificities from both ends of their aerial sorties?  
This week (September 26) Tom German of the Departments of Plant Pathology and of Entomology gets to revel & ravel in this Gordian Knot in his talk entitled, “Virus-Vector Interactions:  Potential for Biorational Control.”

Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Cooperative Extension