Location: Crop Improvement and Protection ResearchTitle: Developing RNAi strategies for whitefly, a pest of critical economic importance for global agriculture
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/5/2020
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, causes global agricultural losses in excess of 1 billion $US annually, and impacts production of US vegetable and ornamental crops as well as crops in the developing world, such as cassava in Sub-Saharan Africa. Joint studies by USDA-ARS and scientists at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture developed methods for whitefly control using a technology known as RNA interference, resulting in both genetically modified plants and transient treatment methods for induction of high mortality rates in whitefly populations. Research conducted in the course of these studies also led to sequencing the genomes of two whitefly biotypes (cryptic species), information on how the whitefly responds biologically to the presence of virus infection through gene expression, and developed a marker system to differentiate cassava feeding B. tabaci variants throughout Africa. This research has led to an expansion of research on development of similar and additional control strategies for insect vectors of additional plant pathogens.