Basic Knowledge Needed to Disrupt Virus Transmission by Insect Vectors
Arthropod vectors play an essential role in dissemination of viruses within complex landscapes. Remarkably, more than 70% of plant-infecting viruses are transmitted from one host to another by arthropod vectors. The overarching, long-range goal of our research is to diminish plant virus disease epidemics by exploiting the specific, molecular interactions between viruses and their vector partners, and by gaining insight into the role viruses play in modulating vector-plant interactions. We generate and use arthropod genomes, transcriptomes and proteomes to identify and characterize molecular determinants of vector competence (the innate ability to support and transmit viruses), and we use ecological approaches to study transmission biology of persistent and non-persistent viruses. With ‘one foot in the furrow’ our lab aims to develop novel and biotechnological strategies that specifically target and control plant viruses and arthropod crop pest populations.