Submitted to: Georgia Academy of Sciences Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 27, 2008
Publication Date: March 14, 2008
Citation: Hunter, W.B., McKenzie, C.L., Mitchell, B.W. 2008. Collecting viruses from the air [abstract]. The 72nd Annual Meeting of the Florida Academy of Sciences, in conjunction with the 85th Annual Meeting of the Georgia Academy of Science, March 14-15, 2008, Jacksonville, Florida. p. 4. Technical Abstract: Detection of pathogens is critical to monitoring their distribution and spread, and is a key component in the prediction and management of disease epidemiology. To monitor airborne pathogens which are not easily captured or are unknown, developing techniques which are sensitive, affordable, and time saving are imperative for widespread implementation. Major difficulties still remain in monitoring diseases in complex agricultural and urban settings. In this study, we have applied an emerging technology of electrostatic sampling to the detection of insect-transmitted plant pathogens. Virus-insect associations where the insects aggregate in large numbers, as with whiteflies, leafhoppers, psyllids and honey bees, the virus or bacterial pathogen becomes aerosolized as thousands of excreta droplets fall from the plants during insect feeding or activity. An electrostatic device, ESD, was used to collect an aerosolized plant pathogenic virus emerging from a colony of Begomovirus infected whiteflies. The ESD differs from existing samplers which have some electrostatic component in that it is small, lightweight, has no moving parts, is easily disinfected, and has high collection efficiency with no observable negative impact on the microorganisms viability. Microorganisms, such as virus and bacteria have been collected using the ESD and then identified and/or cultured. Agricultural systems have not fully measured the impact of bioaerosols on disease epidemiology. The ESD provides a valuable, affordable, method for monitoring bioaerosols which includes plant, animal and human pathogens.