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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Ithaca, New York » Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture & Health » Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #349218

Research Project: Management and Biology of Arthropod Pests and Arthropod-borne Plant Pathogens

Location: Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research

Title: Insect transmission of plant pathogens: a systems biology perspective

item Heck, Michelle

Submitted to: mSystems
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/2/2018
Publication Date: 3/20/2018
Citation: Heck, M.L. 2018. Insect transmission of plant pathogens: a systems biology perspective. mSystems. 3(2).

Interpretive Summary: This perspective article highlights new molecular information on plant pathogen transmission by insects. Many serious plant pathogens are transmitted by insects, including the pathogen that is associated with citrus greening disease. Plant pathogens induce physiological changes in their plant hosts resulting in behavioral changes in the insects that optimize their plant-to-plant spread. Transmission is regulated at the molecular level by a suite of spatially and temporally controlled proteins interactions. Knowledge of these complex interactions allows for the development of tools to block transmission, to rapidly identify important vector populations, and to improve disease management. Blocking pathogen transmission is the next frontier of precision vector-borne disease management strategies.

Technical Abstract: Insect-vectored pathogens pose one of the greatest threats to plant and animal, including human, health on a global scale. Few effective control strategies have been developed to thwart transmission of any insect-transmitted pathogen. Most have negative impacts on the environment and human health and are unsustainable. Plant pathogen transmission by insect vectors involves a combination of co-evolving biological players: plant hosts, insect vectors, plant pathogens and bacterial endosymbionts harbored by the insect. Our ability to help growers to control vector borne disease depends on our ability to generate pathogen and/or disease resistant crops by traditional or synthetic approaches and to block pathogen transmission by the insect vector. Systems biology studies have led to the reexamination of existing paradigms on how pathogens interact with insect vectors, including the bacterial symbionts, and have identified vector-pathogen interactions at the molecular and cellular levels for the development of novel, transmission interdiction strategies.