Plant Pests of the Middle East

 

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The Department of Entomology
The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Herzl 229, Rehovot 7610001, ISRAEL

Tel: 08-9489223 
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Email: orlytal@savion.huji.ac.il

Publications

2021
Easson, M. L. A. E. ; Malka, O. ; Paetz, C. ; Hojna, A. ; Reichelt, M. ; Stein, B. ; van Brunschot, S. ; Feldmesser, E. ; Campbell, L. ; Colvin, J. ; et al. Activation and detoxification of cassava cyanogenic glucosides by the whitefly Bemisia tabaci. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 2021, 11.Abstract
Two-component plant defenses such as cyanogenic glucosides are produced by many plant species, but phloem-feeding herbivores have long been thought not to activate these defenses due to their mode of feeding, which causes only minimal tissue damage. Here, however, we report that cyanogenic glycoside defenses from cassava (Manihot esculenta), a major staple crop in Africa, are activated during feeding by a pest insect, the whitefly Bemisia tabaci, and the resulting hydrogen cyanide is detoxified by conversion to beta-cyanoalanine. Additionally, B. tabaci was found to utilize two metabolic mechanisms to detoxify cyanogenic glucosides by conversion to non-activatable derivatives. First, the cyanogenic glycoside linamarin was glucosylated 1-4 times in succession in a reaction catalyzed by two B. tabaci glycoside hydrolase family 13 enzymes in vitro utilizing sucrose as a co-substrate. Second, both linamarin and the glucosylated linamarin derivatives were phosphorylated. Both phosphorylation and glucosidation of linamarin render this plant pro-toxin inert to the activating plant enzyme linamarase, and thus these metabolic transformations can be considered pre-emptive detoxification strategies to avoid cyanogenesis.
Neta, A. ; Gafni, R. ; Elias, H. ; Bar-Shmuel, N. ; Shaltiel-Harpaz, L. ; Morin, E. ; Morin, S. Decision support for pest management: Using field data for optimizing temperature-dependent population dynamics models. ECOLOGICAL MODELLING 2021, 440.Abstract
Insect physiology is highly dependent on the environmental temperature, and the relationship can be mathematically defined. Thus, many models that aim to predict insect-pest population dynamics, use meteorological data as input to descriptive functions that predict the development rate, survival and reproduction of pest populations. In most cases, however, these functions/models are laboratory-driven and are based on data from constant-temperature experiments. Therefore, they lack an important optimization and validation steps that test their accuracy under field conditions. Here, we developed a realistic and robust regional framework for modeling the field population dynamics of the global insect pest Bemisia tabaci. First, two non-linear functions, development rate (DR) and female reproduction (EN) were fitted to data collected in constant temperature experiments. Next, nine one-generation field experiments were conducted in order to establish a field-derived database of insect performance, representing a variety of growing conditions (different seasons, regions and host plants). Then, sensitivity analyses were performed for identifying the optimal time-scale for which the running-averaged temperatures should be fed to the model. Setting the time to 6 h (i.e., each of the 24-time steps per day represents the last 6 h average) produced the best fit (RMSD score of 1.59 days, 5.7% of the mean) between the field observations and the model simulations. We hypothesize that the 6 h `relevant biological time-scale' captures the insect's physiological memory of daily cycling temperature events. Lastly, we evaluated the potential of the developed modeling framework to serve as a decision support tool in pest-management programs by correlating the model predictions with field-observations of three pest control inspectors during 2019. The model successfully predicted the first notable appearance of the insect in the field (completion of the third generation in May). Also, the model correctly identified the sharp rise in abundance (outbreak point) in mid-July (completion of the fifth generation), and the persistent rise in abundance through August and September. Comparing the simulations of the 2018 and 2019 seasons indicated that the model can also serve as a tool for retrospective systematic assessment of major decisions. Taken together, these data demonstrate the model robustness and its potential to provide an excellent decision-making support platform in regional control of pest species.
Malka, O. ; Feldmesser, E. ; van Brunschot, S. ; Santos-Garcia, D. ; Han, W. - H. ; Seal, S. ; Colvin, J. ; Morin, S. The molecular mechanisms that determine different degrees of polyphagy in the Bemisia tabaci species complex. EVOLUTIONARY APPLICATIONS 2021, 14, 807-820.Abstract
The whitefly Bemisia tabaci is a closely related group of >35 cryptic species that feed on the phloem sap of a broad range of host plants. Species in the complex differ in their host-range breadth, but the mechanisms involved remain poorly understood. We investigated, therefore, how six different B. tabaci species cope with the environmental unpredictability presented by a set of four common and novel host plants. Behavioral studies indicated large differences in performances on the four hosts and putative specialization of one of the species to cassava plants. Transcriptomic analyses revealed two main insights. First, a large set of genes involved in metabolism (>85%) showed differences in expression between the six species, and each species could be characterized by its own unique expression pattern of metabolic genes. However, within species, these genes were constitutively expressed, with a low level of environmental responsiveness (i.e., to host change). Second, within each species, sets of genes mainly associated with the super-pathways ``environmental information processing'' and ``organismal systems'' responded to the host switching events. These included genes encoding for proteins involved in sugar homeostasis, signal transduction, membrane transport, and immune, endocrine, sensory and digestive responses. Our findings suggested that the six B. tabaci species can be divided into four performance/transcriptomic ``Types'' and that polyphagy can be achieved in multiple ways. However, polyphagy level is determined by the specific identity of the metabolic genes/pathways that are enriched and overexpressed in each species (the species' individual metabolic ``tool kit'').
2020
Li, J. ; Harari, O. A. ; Doss, A. - L. ; Walling, L. L. ; Atkinson, P. W. ; Morin, S. ; Tabashnik, B. E. Can CRISPR gene drive work in pest and beneficial haplodiploid species?. EVOLUTIONARY APPLICATIONS 2020, 13, 2392-2403. DOIAbstract
Gene drives based on CRISPR/Cas9 have the potential to reduce the enormous harm inflicted by crop pests and insect vectors of human disease, as well as to bolster valued species. In contrast with extensive empirical and theoretical studies in diploid organisms, little is known about CRISPR gene drive in haplodiploids, despite their immense global impacts as pollinators, pests, natural enemies of pests, and invasive species in native habitats. Here, we analyze mathematical models demonstrating that, in principle, CRISPR homing gene drive can work in haplodiploids, as well as at sex-linked loci in diploids. However, relative to diploids, conditions favoring the spread of alleles deleterious to haplodiploid pests by CRISPR gene drive are narrower, the spread is slower, and resistance to the drive evolves faster. By contrast, the spread of alleles that impose little fitness cost or boost fitness was not greatly hindered in haplodiploids relative to diploids. Therefore, altering traits to minimize damage caused by harmful haplodiploids, such as interfering with transmission of plant pathogens, may be more likely to succeed than control efforts based on introducing traits that reduce pest fitness. Enhancing fitness of beneficial haplodiploids with CRISPR gene drive is also promising.
Santos-Garcia, D. ; Mestre-Rincon, N. ; Zchori-Fein, E. ; Morin, S. Inside out: microbiota dynamics during host-plant adaptation of whiteflies. ISME JOURNAL 2020, 14, 847-856.Abstract
While most insect herbivores are selective feeders, a small proportion of them feed on a wide range of plants. This polyphagous habit requires overcoming a remarkable array of defenses, which often necessitates an adaptation period. Efforts for understanding the mechanisms involved mostly focus on the insect's phenotypic plasticity. Here, we hypothesized that the adaptation process might partially rely on transient associations with bacteria. To test this, we followed in a field-like experiment, the adaptation process of Bemisia tabaci, a generalist sap feeder, to pepper (a less-suitable host), after switching from watermelon (a suitable host). Amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA transcripts from hundreds of dissected guts revealed the presence of active ``core'' and ``transient'' bacterial communities, dominated by the phyla Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Firmicutes, and increasing differences between populations grown on watermelon and pepper. Insects grown on pepper for over two generations presented a significant increase in specific genera, mainly Mycobacterium, with a predicted enrichment in degradative pathways of xenobiotics and secondary metabolites. This result correlated with a significant increase in the insect's survival on pepper. Taken together, our findings suggest that gut-associated bacteria can provide an additional flexible metabolic ``tool-box'' to generalist sap feeders for facilitating a quick host switching process.
Malka, O. ; Easson, M. L. A. E. ; Paetz, C. ; Goetz, M. ; Reichelt, M. ; Stein, B. ; Luck, K. ; Stanisic, A. ; Juravel, K. ; Santos-Garcia, D. ; et al. Glucosylation prevents plant defense activation in phloem-feeding insects. NATURE CHEMICAL BIOLOGY 2020, 16, 1420+.Abstract
The metabolic adaptations by which phloem-feeding insects counteract plant defense compounds are poorly known. Two-component plant defenses, such as glucosinolates, consist of a glucosylated protoxin that is activated by a glycoside hydrolase upon plant damage. Phloem-feeding herbivores are not generally believed to be negatively impacted by two-component defenses due to their slender piercing-sucking mouthparts, which minimize plant damage. However, here we document that glucosinolates are indeed activated during feeding by the whiteflyBemisia tabaci. This phloem feeder was also found to detoxify the majority of the glucosinolates it ingests by the stereoselective addition of glucose moieties, which prevents hydrolytic activation of these defense compounds. Glucosylation of glucosinolates inB. tabaciwas accomplished via a transglucosidation mechanism, and two glycoside hydrolase family 13 (GH13) enzymes were shown to catalyze these reactions. This detoxification reaction was also found in a range of other phloem-feeding herbivores.
Harari, O. A. ; Santos-Garcia, D. ; Musseri, M. ; Moshitzky, P. ; Patel, M. ; Visendi, P. ; Seal, S. ; Sertchook, R. ; Malka, O. ; Morin, S. Molecular Evolution of the Glutathione S-Transferase Family in the Bemisia tabaci Species Complex. GENOME BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION 2020, 12, 3857-3872.Abstract
The glutathione S-transferase (GST) family plays an important role in the adaptation of herbivorous insects to new host plants and other environmental constrains. The family codes for enzymes that neutralize reactive oxygen species and phytotoxins through the conjugation of reduced glutathione. Here, we studied the molecular evolution of the GST family in Bemisia tabaci, a complex of >35 sibling species, differing in their geographic and host ranges. We tested if some enzymes evolved different functionality, by comparing their sequences in six species, representing five of the six major genetic clades in the complex. Comparisons of the non-synonymous to synonymous substitution ratios detected positive selection events in 11 codons of 5 cytosolic GSTs. Ten of them are located in the periphery of the GST dimer, suggesting a putative involvement in interactions with other proteins. Modeling the tertiary structure of orthologous enzymes, identified additional 19 mutations in 9 GSTs, likely affecting the enzymes' functionality. Most of the mutation eventswere found in the environmentally responsive classes Delta and Sigma, indicating a slightly different delta/sigma tool box in each species. At a broader genomic perspective, our analyses indicated a significant expansion of the Delta GST class in B. tabaci and a general association between the diet breadth of hemipteran species and their total number of GST genes. We raise the possibility that at least some of the identified changes improve the fitness of the B. tabaci species carrying them, leading to their better adaptation to specific environments.
Santos-Garcia, D. ; Mestre-Rincon, N. ; Ouvrard, D. ; Zchori-Fein, E. ; Morin, S. Portiera Gets Wild: Genome Instability Provides Insights into the Evolution of Both Whiteflies and Their Endosymbion. GENOME BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION 2020, 12, 2107-2124.Abstract
Whiteflies (Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Aleyrodidae) are a superfamily of small phloem-feeding insects. They rely on their primary endosymbionts ``Candidatus Portiera aleyrodidarum'' to produce essential amino acids not present in their diet. Portiera has been codiverging with whiteflies since their origin and therefore reflects its host's evolutionary history. Like in most primary endosymbionts, the genome of Portiera stays stable across the Aleyrodidae superfamily after millions of years of codivergence. However, Portiera of the whitefly Bemisia tabaci has lost the ancestral genome order, reflecting a rare event in the endosymbiont evolution: the appearance of genome instability. To gain a better understanding of Portiera genome evolution, identify the time point in which genome instability appeared and contribute to the reconstruction of whitefly phylogeny, we developed a new phylogenetic framework. It targeted five Portiera genes and determined the presence of the DNA polymerase proofreading subunit (dnaQ) gene, previously associated with genome instability, and two alternative gene rearrangements. Our results indicated that Portiera gene sequences provide a robust tool for studying intergenera phylogenetic relationships in whiteflies. Using these new framework, we found that whitefly species from the Singhiella, Aleurolobus, and Bemisia genera form a monophyletic tribe, the Aleurolobini, and that their Portiera exhibit genome instability. This instability likely arose once in the common ancestor of the Aleurolobini tribe (at least 70 Ma), drawing a link between the appearance of genome instability in Portiera and the switch from multibacteriocyte to a single-bacteriocyte mode of inheritance in this tribe.
2019
Yang, R. ; Garcia, D. S. ; Montaño, F. P. ; Da Silva, G. M. ; Zhao, M. ; Guerrero, I. J. ; Rosenberg, T. ; Chen, G. ; Plaschkes, I. ; Morin, S. ; et al. Complete assembly of the genome of an Acidovorax citrulli strain reveals a naturally occurring plasmid in this species. Frontiers in Microbiology 2019, 10. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Acidovorax citrulli is the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch (BFB), a serious threat to cucurbit crop production worldwide. Based on genetic and phenotypic properties, A. citrulli strains are divided into two major groups: group I strains have been generally isolated from melon and other non-watermelon cucurbits, while group II strains are closely associated with watermelon. In a previous study, we reported the genome of the group I model strain, M6. At that time, the M6 genome was sequenced by MiSeq Illumina technology, with reads assembled into 139 contigs. Here, we report the assembly of the M6 genome following sequencing with PacBio technology. This approach not only allowed full assembly of the M6 genome, but it also revealed the occurrence of a ∼53 kb plasmid. The M6 plasmid, named pACM6, was further confirmed by plasmid extraction, Southern-blot analysis of restricted fragments and obtention of M6-derivative cured strains. pACM6 occurs at low copy numbers (average of ∼4.1 ± 1.3 chromosome equivalents) in A. citrulli M6 and contains 63 open reading frames (ORFs), most of which (55.6%) encoding hypothetical proteins. The plasmid contains several genes encoding type IV secretion components, and typical plasmid-borne genes involved in plasmid maintenance, replication and transfer. The plasmid also carries an operon encoding homologs of a Fic-VbhA toxin-antitoxin (TA) module. Transcriptome data from A. citrulli M6 revealed that, under the tested conditions, the genes encoding the components of this TA system are among the highest expressed genes in pACM6. Whether this TA module plays a role in pACM6 maintenance is still to be determined. Leaf infiltration and seed transmission assays revealed that, under tested conditions, the loss of pACM6 did not affect the virulence of A. citrulli M6. We also show that pACM6 or similar plasmids are present in several group I strains, but absent in all tested group II strains of A. citrulli. Copyright © 2019 Yang, Santos Garcia, Pérez Montaño, da Silva, Zhao, Jiménez Guerrero, Rosenberg, Chen, Plaschkes, Morin, Walcott and Burdman.
2018
Eakteiman, G. ; Moses-Koch, R. ; Moshitzky, P. ; Mestre-Rincon, N. ; Vassão, D. G. ; Luck, K. ; Sertchook, R. ; Malka, O. ; Morin, S. Targeting detoxification genes by phloem-mediated RNAi: A new approach for controlling phloem-feeding insect pests. Insect Biochem Mol Biol 2018, 100, 10-21.Abstract
Many phloem-feeding insects are considered severe pests of agriculture and are controlled mainly by chemical insecticides. Continued extensive use of these inputs is environmentally undesirable, and also leads to the development of insecticide resistance. Here, we used a plant-mediated RNA interference (RNAi) approach, to develop a new control strategy for phloem-feeding insects. The approach aims to silence "key" detoxification genes, involved in the insect's ability to neutralize defensive and toxic plant chemistry. We targeted a glutathione S-transferase (GST) gene, BtGSTs5, in the phloem-feeding whitefly Bemisia tabaci, a devastating global agricultural pest. We report three major findings. First, significant down regulation of the BtGSTs5 gene was obtained in the gut of B. tabaci when the insects were fed on Arabidopsis thaliana transgenic plants expressing dsRNA against BtGSTs5 under a phloem-specific promoter. This brings evidence that phloem-feeding insects can be efficiently targeted by plant-mediated RNAi. Second, in-silico and in-vitro analyses indicated that the BtGSTs5 enzyme can accept as substrates, hydrolyzed aliphatic- and indolic-glucosinolates, and produce their corresponding detoxified conjugates. Third, performance assays suggested that the BtGSTs5 gene silencing prolongs the developmental period of B. tabaci nymphs. Taken together, these findings suggest that BtGSTs5 is likely to play an important role in enabling B. tabaci to successfully feed on glucosinolate-producing plants. Targeting the gene by RNAi in Brassicaceae cropping systems, will likely not eliminate the pest populations from the fields but will significantly reduce their success over the growing season, support prominent activity of natural enemies, eventually allowing the establishment of stable and sustainable agroecosystem.
Santos-Garcia, D. ; Juravel, K. ; Freilich, S. ; Zchori-Fein, E. ; Latorre, A. ; Moya, A. ; Morin, S. ; Silva, F. J. To B or Not to B: Comparative Genomics Suggests as a Source of B Vitamins in Whiteflies. Front Microbiol 2018, 9 2254.Abstract
Insect lineages feeding on nutritionally restricted diets such as phloem sap, xylem sap, or blood, were able to diversify by acquiring bacterial species that complement lacking nutrients. These bacteria, considered obligate/primary endosymbionts, share a long evolutionary history with their hosts. In some cases, however, these endosymbionts are not able to fulfill all of their host's nutritional requirements, driving the acquisition of additional symbiotic species. Phloem-feeding members of the insect family Aleyrodidae (whiteflies) established an obligate relationship with Portiera aleyrodidarum, which provides its hots with essential amino acids and carotenoids. In addition, many whitefly species harbor additional endosymbionts which may potentially further supplement their host's diet. To test this hypothesis, genomes of several endosymbionts of the whiteflies and were analyzed. In addition to , all three species were found to harbor one and one endosymbiont. A comparative analysis of genomes revealed that although all three are capable of synthesizing B vitamins and cofactors, such as pyridoxal, riboflavin, or folate, their genomes and phylogenetic relationship vary greatly. of and belong to the same clade, and display characteristics of facultative endosymbionts, such as large genomes (3 Mb) with thousands of genes and pseudogenes, intermediate GC content, and mobile genetic elements. In contrast, of belongs to a different lineage and displays the characteristics of a primary endosymbiont-a reduced genome (670 kb) with ~400 genes, 32% GC content, and no mobile genetic elements. However, the presence of 274 pseudogenes suggests that this symbiotic association is more recent than other reported primary endosymbionts of hemipterans. The gene repertoire of of is completely integrated in the symbiotic consortia, and the biosynthesis of most vitamins occurs in shared pathways with its host. In addition, endosymbionts have also retained the ability to produce riboflavin, flavin adenine dinucleotide, and folate, and may make a nutritional contribution. Taken together, our results show that hold a pivotal place in whitefly nutrition by their ability to produce B vitamins.
Malka, O. ; Santos-Garcia, D. ; Feldmesser, E. ; Sharon, E. ; Krause-Sakate, R. ; Delatte, H. ; van Brunschot, S. ; Patel, M. ; Visendi, P. ; Mugerwa, H. ; et al. Species-complex diversification and host-plant associations in Bemisia tabaci: A plant-defence, detoxification perspective revealed by RNA-Seq analyses. Mol Ecol 2018, 27, 4241-4256.Abstract
Insect-plant associations and their role in diversification are mostly studied in specialists. Here, we aimed to identify macroevolution patterns in the relationships between generalists and their host plants that have the potential to promote diversification. We focused on the Bemisia tabaci species complex containing more than 35 cryptic species. Mechanisms for explaining this impressive diversification have focused so far on allopatric forces that assume a common, broad, host range. We conducted a literature survey which indicated that species in the complex differ in their host range, with only few showing a truly broad one. We then selected six species, representing different phylogenetic groups and documented host ranges. We tested whether differences in the species expression profiles of detoxification genes are shaped more by their phylogenetic relationships or by their ability to successfully utilize multiple hosts, including novel ones. Performance assays divided the six species into two groups of three, one showing higher performance on various hosts than the other (the lower performance group). The same grouping pattern appeared when the species were clustered according to their expression profiles. Only species placed in the lower performance group showed a tendency to lower the expression of multiple genes. Taken together, these findings bring evidence for the existence of a common detoxification "machinery," shared between species that can perform well on multiple hosts. We raise the possibility that this "machinery" might have played a passive role in the diversification of the complex, by allowing successful migration to new/novel environments, leading, in some cases, to fragmentation and speciation.
2017
Santos-Garcia, D. ; Silva, F. J. ; Morin, S. ; Dettner, K. ; Kuechler, S. M. The All-Rounder Sodalis: A New Bacteriome-Associated Endosymbiont of the Lygaeoid Bug Henestaris halophilus (Heteroptera: Henestarinae) and a Critical Examination of Its Evolution. Genome Biology and Evolution 2017, 9 2893 - 2910. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Hemipteran insects are well-known in their ability to establish symbiotic relationships with bacteria. Among them, heteropteran insects present an array of symbiotic systems, ranging from the most common gut crypt symbiosis to the more restricted bacteriome-associated endosymbiosis, which have only been detected in members of the superfamily Lygaeoidea and the family Cimicidae so far. Genomic data of heteropteran endosymbionts are scarce and have merely been analyzed from the Wolbachia endosymbiont in bed bug and a few gut crypt-associated symbionts in pentatomoid bugs. In this study, we present the first detailed genomic analysis of a bacteriome-associated endosymbiont of a phytophagous heteropteran, present in the seed bug Henestaris halophilus (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Lygaeoidea). Using phylogenomics and genomics approaches, we have assigned the newly characterized endosymbiont to the Sodalis genus, named as Candidatus Sodalis baculum sp. nov. strain kilmister. In addition, our findings support the reunification of the Sodalis genus, currently divided into six different genera. We have also conducted comparative analyses between 15 Sodalis species that present different genome sizes and symbiotic relationships. These analyses suggest that Ca. Sodalis baculum is a mutualistic endosymbiont capable of supplying the amino acids tyrosine, lysine, and some cofactors to its host. It has a small genome with pseudogenes but no mobile elements, which indicates middle-stage reductive evolution. Most of the genes in Ca. Sodalis baculum are likely to be evolving under purifying selection with several signals pointing to the retention of the lysine/tyrosine biosynthetic pathways compared with other Sodalis.
2016
Zidon, R. ; Tsueda, H. ; Morin, E. ; Morin, S. Projecting pest population dynamics under global warming: the combined effect of inter- and intra-annual variations. Ecological Applications 2016, 26, 1198-1210. Publisher's VersionAbstract
AbstractThe typical short generation length of insects makes their population dynamics highly sensitive not only to mean annual temperatures but also to their intra-annual variations. To consider the combined effect of both thermal factors under global warming, we propose a modeling framework that links general circulation models (GCMs) with a stochastic weather generator and population dynamics models to predict species population responses to inter- and intra-annual temperature changes. This framework was utilized to explore future changes in populations of Bemisia tabaci, an invasive insect pest-species that affects multiple agricultural systems in the Mediterranean region. We considered three locations representing different pest status and climatic conditions: Montpellier (France), Seville (Spain), and Beit-Jamal (Israel). We produced ensembles of local daily temperature realizations representing current and future (mid-21st century) climatic conditions under two emission scenarios for the three locations. Our simulations predicted a significant increase in the average number of annual generations and in population size, and a significant lengthening of the growing season in all three locations. A negative effect was found only in Seville for the summer season, where future temperatures lead to a reduction in population size. High variability in population size was observed between years with similar annual mean temperatures, suggesting a strong effect of intra-annual temperature variation. Critical periods were from late spring to late summer in Montpellier and from late winter to early summer in Seville and Beit-Jamal. Although our analysis suggested that earlier seasonal activity does not necessarily lead to increased populations load unless an additional generation is produced, it is highly likely that the insect will become a significant pest of open-fields at Mediterranean latitudes above 40° during the next 50 years. Our simulations also implied that current predictions based on mean temperature anomalies are relatively conservative and it is better to apply stochastic tools to resolve complex responses to climate change while taking natural variability into account. In summary, we propose a modeling framework capable of determining distinct intra-annual temperature patterns leading to large or small population sizes, for pest risk assessment and management planning of both natural and agricultural ecosystems.
Malka, O. ; Shekhov, A. ; Reichelt, M. ; Gershenzon, J. ; Vassão, D. G. ; Morin, S. Glucosinolate Desulfation by the Phloem-Feeding Insect Bemisia tabaci. Journal of Chemical Ecology 2016, 42, 230–235. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Glucosinolates are plant secondary defense metabolites confined nearly exclusively to the order Brassicales. Upon tissue rupture, glucosinolates are hydrolyzed to various bioactive breakdown products by the endogenous plant enzyme myrosinase. As the feeding of chewing insect herbivores is associated with plant tissue damage, these insects have developed several independent strategies for coping with the glucosinolate-myrosinase defense system. On the other hand, our knowledge of how phloem-feeding insects interact with the glucosinolate-myrosinase system is much more limited. In fact, phloem feeders might avoid contact with myrosinase altogether so their susceptibility to intoxication by glucosinolate hydrolysis products is unclear. Previous studies utilizing Arabidopsis thaliana plants accumulating high levels of aliphatic- or indolic-glucosinolates indicated that both glucosinolate groups have moderate negative effects on the reproductive performance of Bemisia tabaci, a generalist phloem-feeding insect. To get a deeper understanding of the interaction between B. tabaci and glucosinolate-defended plants, adults were allowed to feed on artificial diet containing intact glucosinolates or on Brussels sprout and A. thaliana plants, and their honeydew was analyzed for the presence of possible metabolites. We found that B. tabaci is capable of cleaving off the sulfate group of intact glucosinolates, producing desulfoglucosinolates that cannot be activated by myrosinases, a mechanism described to date only in several chewing insect herbivores. The presence of desulfated glucosinolates in the honeydew of a generalist phloem-feeder may indicate the necessity to detoxify glucosinolates, likely due to some level of cellular damage during feeding, which results in glucosinolate activation, or as a mechanism to circumvent the non-enzymatic breakdown of indolic glucosinolates.
Roditakis, E. ; Morin, S. ; Baixeras, J. Is Bactra bactrana (Kennel, 1901) a novel pest of sweet peppers?. Bulletin of Entomological Research 2016, 106, 161-167. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This is the first report of Bactra bactrana (Kennel, 1901) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) attacking a major solanaceous crop, sweet pepper Capsicum annuum L. The infestation was detected in two greenhouses at the area of Tympaki (Southern Crete, Greece). The moth larvae caused typical symptoms of a fruit borer with numerous small holes on the surface of the peppers and extensive damage on the inside of the fruit as a result of the feeding activity. Unknown factors facilitated this major shift in host range since B. bactrana is typically a stem borer of sedges. In addition, the pest status of B. bactrana is currently under question, as in both cases the infestations by the moth were associated with significant yield losses. B. bactrana was moderately controlled with chemicals registered for Lepidoptera management in sweet pepper due to the boring nature of the infestation. Some comparative taxonomic notes are provided to facilitate accurate pest discrimination of related Bactra species. Finally, biological attributes of the species are summarized and are discussed from pest control and ecological perspectives. Because Bactra species have been used in augmentative releases for the control of sage, the implications of our findings on the release of biocontrol agents are placed in perspective.