NC State
Dr. Dorith Rotenberg's Lab

Tomato spotted wilt virus – thrips interactionsTomato spotted wilt virus

(Order Bunyavirales, Family Tospoviridae, Genus Orthotospovirus; TSWV) is considered one of the top 10 most destructive plant viruses worldwide.  TSWV is transmitted to field and greenhouse crops in a circulative-propagative manner by thrips vectors. Frankliniella occidentalis (the western flower thrips) – called a Super Vector by many researchers and growers alike – is the principal thrips vector species of TSWV.

While we understand that thrips vector competence is defined by the ability to acquire, support replication, and disseminate TSWV along a dedicated route from the anterior region of the midgut to salivary glands for host inoculation to occur, very little is known about the role thrips molecules play in coordinating this transmission process. To that end, we dedicate our time to these initiatives:

  • Transcriptomic- and proteomic-level investigations to characterize thrips molecular response to TSWV in tissues during early (midgut) and later (salivary gland) stages of the transmission process.
  • Extension of our findings to other thrips vector-orthotospovirus relationships ( fusca – TSWV; Thrips palmiCapsicum chlorosis virus) to identify conserved molecular responses to orthotospovirus infection.
  • Identification and characterization of thrips proteins that interact directly with the TSWV-encoded structural glycoprotein GN, the viral attachment protein that plays a role in virus entry.
  • Identification of secreted thrips salivary gland proteins that stimulate or suppress plant defenses.
  • Characterization of plant response to dual attack by TSWV and thrips

 Vector genome and transcriptome sequence resources

To enable functional genomics studies of thrips-TSWV interactions and to provide a missing taxon for contemporary insect genomics-based analyses, we needed a thrips genome!

Rotenberg coordinated an international consortium of 56 scientists from 17 research groups across 5 continents to annotate the first thysanopteran genome as part of a pilot i5k project at Baylor College of Medicine – Human Genome Sequencing Center (link here).  The consortium generated an inbred line of Frankliniella occidentalis for sequencing and assembly, provided transcriptome sequences to support automated annotation of gene models, and manually curated and analyzed sequences of 100’s of genes to gain new genomic insights into the biology of thrips as a crop pest (Rotenberg et al., 2020).

Please go here for FOCC genome sequence resources


Vector dispersal and transmission dynamics of cereal viruses by hemipteran vectors

Members of the lab are investigating biological factors that influence spatiotemporal dispersion and host selection of viruliferous vectors that colonize agronomic and native grass species. Experiments are conducted in mesocosm-scale arenas under controlled environments.

The vector-virus systems include:

  • Rhopalosiphum padi (bird cherry-oat aphid) & barley yellow dwarf viruses (BYDV-PAV and BYDV-PAS);
  • Rhopalosiphum padi & maize dwarf mosaic virus; and
  • Peregrinus maidis (corn planthopper) & maize mosaic rhabdovirus (MMV)