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Research Project: Sustainable Approaches for Pest Management in Vegetable Crops

Location: Vegetable Research

Title: Whiteflies: Developing host plant resistance in watermelon from wild sources

item Simmons, Alvin
item Levi, Amnon

Submitted to: 3rd Hemipteran-Plant Interactions Symposium Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/9/2017
Publication Date: 6/1/2017
Citation: Simmons, A.M., Levi, A. 2017. Whiteflies: Developing host plant resistance in watermelon from wild sources. 3rd Hemipteran-Plant Interactions Symposium, 4-8 June 2017, Madrid, Spain. Book of Abstracts. Pg 184.

Interpretive Summary: N/A

Technical Abstract: The whitefly (Aleyrodidae) Bemisia tabaci causes serious damage to horticultural crops, including watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus) and it is known to transmit many plant viruses. This whitefly is highly polyphagous, with over 1,000 known species, and can adapt to the environment. Yet, there is a wide variation in acceptance and performance of whiteflies among host plant species. With a relatively short generation time and high rate of oviposition, whitefly populations can quickly build on suitable host plants like watermelon. Commercial watermelon cultivars share a narrow genetic base and are highly susceptible to whiteflies. Citrullus colocynthis is a perennial desert watermelon species with a broad genetic base and viable sources of resistance to insect pests and diseases of watermelon. This watermelon species is indigenous to arid regions of Northern Africa, the Mediterranean, and Southwest Asia. Experiments were conducted with Citrullus genotypes collected in different geographic regions and a source of resistance to whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci; MEAM1) was identified based on antibiosis, non-preference, and plant tolerance. Experiments were conducted in the laboratory, greenhouse, and field. Experiments in the laboratory included a vertical Y-tube monitoring technique for the rapid testing of whitefly response to phytochemicals, as well as for the collection of data on whitefly oviposition and survival. Citrullus genotypes showing resistance to whiteflies are being developed into germplasm lines. Traditional and molecular approaches are being used to incorporate whitefly resistance into watermelon cultivars.