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article imageSaving crops from whitefly

By Tim Sandle     Dec 2, 2013 in Environment
Scientists have introduced a new technique to select which types of plants are most resistant to whitefly. The aim is to aid the development of defenses against whitefly diseases threatening food crops worldwide.
Some crops, notably tomatoes and bean plants, are at risk from viral disease spread by insects called whiteflies. Whitefly-transmitted plant viruses (such as Begomovirus) are part of an emerging and economically significant group of pathogens affecting important food and fiber crops. However, it is notable that some types of plants are more resistant than others.
Whiteflies are small insects that typically feed on the undersides of plant leaves. In the tropics and subtropics, whiteflies have become one of the most serious crop protection problems. Economic losses are estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars. As whiteflies feed they introduce toxic saliva and decreasing the plants' overall turgor pressure.
To overcome the destructive menace of whiteflies, researchers have managed to rear whiteflies with a specific virus while omitting the possibility of cross-contamination to other viruses. After exposing large numbers of a particular plant species to a specific whitefly-transmitted virus, the researchers can then note which individual plants resisted infection and why.
Examples of the technique include ways to develop tomatoes with resistance to tomato yellow leaf curl virus, which is a big problem in tomato production in the southern U.S.
The findings have been published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments. The paper is titled "Transmitting Plant Viruses Using Whiteflies."
More about whitefly, Crops, Infection, Tomatoes, Beans
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