|New Technologies and Strategies for Managing Emerging Insect Pests and Insect Transmitted Pathogens of Potatoes
Vegetable Insect Research Objectives:
Sap-feeding insects (potato psyllid, beet leafhopper, and aphid) are among the most disruptive arthropod pests in commercial potato fields of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho due to their vectoring activities: potato psyllid as vector of the zebra chip pathogen, beet leafhopper as vector of the pathogen causing purple top, and aphids as vectors of Potato Virus Y and Potato Leafroll Virus. These species occur extensively outside of fields on weedy plant hosts. This trait makes it difficult to predict when infective insects will arrive in potato fields, causing growers to abandon Integrated Pest Management programs in favor of calendar-based sprays. This project uses new molecular technology (gut contents analysis) developed in our former Project Plan to identify weed sources of vectors arriving in potato fields. We also use electrical penetration graph (EPG) techniques to characterize feeding behavior and stylet penetration activities by vectors on weedy hosts and use those results to evaluate efficiency of pathogen transmission and acquisition across weed species. Research additionally examines whether host-defined subpopulations of potato psyllid and beet leafhopper vary in tendency to colonize potato fields and whether these tendencies are genetically determined. We are using gut contents analysis to examine the role of predatory arthropods as sources of vector biological control in non-crop habitats. Our longer goal is to develop a “risk matrix” of weedy species ranked by importance as sources of potato psyllids and beet leafhoppers arriving in potato fields. The research will benefit the potato industry by allowing growers to predict which fields are at-risk because of proximity to key weedy species. That knowledge will let growers tailor monitoring and insecticide programs according to field-risk. Additionally, once weedy reservoirs of infective insects have been identified, growers or local weed-control agencies will be able to target these reservoirs for eradication.
Researchers Conducting Vegetable Insect Research:
- Gina Angelella
- Gina Angelella is a Research Entomologist with research focused solely on biology and management of insect pests of potato. Her research interests include biology, ecology, and behavior of insect vectors of potato pathogens, including potato psyllid, beet leafhopper, green peach aphid, and potato aphid.
- Rodney Cooper
- Rodney Cooper is a Research Entomologist/Research Leader whose research interests include the biology, ecology and host-plant interactions of Hemipteran pests of potato.
- Dave Horton
- Dave Horton is a Research Entomologist and Lead Scientist of the project, having interests in behavioral ecology, biological control and applied ecology. His research focuses on the biology and management of insect pests in potatoes, including wireworms and potato psyllid. Other interests include studies on the population biology and behavior of predatory true bugs in the families Anthocoridae and Miridae.