Plant pathogen effects on Hemipteran Settling Behavior
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Plants in agricultural systems are often subject to many harmful pathogens, including fungal and bacterial diseases, viruses, and mollicutes. Once a plant senses a stressor, many will begin to produce various secondary metabolites such as phytoalexins which can alter the plant’s physiological state. In previous work, it has been established that these compounds’ presence can affect the feeding behaviour of herbivorous species. Past studies have shown that plants infected with a pathogen can have decreased levels of amino acids and sugar compounds when compared to uninfected plants, which can consequently contribute to decreased insect attraction to infected plants. Aster Yellows Phytoplasma (AYP) is a mollicute that infects a very wide variety of hosts, many of which are important to the agricultural sector in Canada. Research into the pathosystem involving AYP, insect vectors, and the host plant is needed to understand to what degree infected plants might influence insect behaviour and disease dynamics. This study used healthy Canola plants (Brassica napus) along with plants infected with Aster Yellows Phytoplasma in no-choice and two-choice bioassays to evaluate the effects of pathogen infection has on vector settling behaviour, developmental time, rate of oviposition, and probing activity. This same process will be repeated with Cucumber Mosaic Virus and Turnip Mosaic Virus to determine if a viral infection will result in similar effects.
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