Read the magazine story to find out more.
If the soybean aphid becomes as bad a problem this season as expected, a viral rapid response team in Wooster, Ohio, is ready. The team of scientists from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Ohio State University (OSU) was formed in the 1960s.
The soybean aphid--which arrived in this country 5 years ago and probably spreads viral diseases to plants--is just one example of how the soybean's old overseas enemies are reuniting with it here. Soybean rust, a fungal disease that arrived last summer, is the newest threat.
The ARS Corn and Soybean Research Unit, led by Roy Gingery--with OSU colleagues at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster--receives infected corn leaves from around the world and soybean leaves from throughout the region for viral identification.
The team is checking to see if soybean aphids are transmitting any viruses. They do this by feeding them infected soybean leaves and then releasing them on uninfected plants.
Besides identifying viral diseases and their insect carriers, the team helps breeders develop corn and soybean plants resistant to viruses. As part of this work, they supply breeders with viral detection kits and plant and viral genome maps. The team also uses safe versions of viruses to transfer plant genes into crops to investigate their functions.
ARS plant molecular biologist Peg Redinbaugh and colleagues on the team have identified genes for resistance to maize chlorotic dwarf virus (MCDV). OSU entomologist Saskia Hogenhout led a project to produce antibodies that detect several MCDV proteins, including one thought to facilitate insect transmission. Characterization of the interaction between this "helper protein" and virus particles might suggest ways to disrupt transmission and prevent epidemics.
Read more about the research in the May 2005 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.