Navigation Links
USDA grant advancing deadly plant disease, insect research
Date:1/23/2013

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- A competitive grant is helping a Kansas State University doctoral student turn the insect responsible for spreading one of the worst plant diseases into a tool that stifles the disease's transmission.

Ismael E. Badillo-Vargas, a plant pathology doctoral student, Puerto Rico, recently was awarded a predoctoral fellowship grant of more than $71,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The competitive scholarship is awarded to agriculture students who have two more years to complete their doctoral degree programs. Recipients receive two years of funding for research expenditures, tuition, a graduate research salary and conference travel.

For Badillo-Vargas, the fellowship advances his research on the tomato spotted wilt virus and its relationship to thrips -- tiny, winged insects that carry and spread the plant disease.

Tomato spotted wilt virus is one of the 10 most devastating plant viruses, according to the USDA. The virus, which kills a variety of food-producing plants, causes about $100 million in U.S. crop losses and roughly $1 billion in global crop losses every year.

The virus is transmitted to plants by the western flower thrips. The virus, however, does not harm the thrips that carry it and replicate the virus. Badillo-Vargas wants to understand why.

He is looking at how the tomato spotted wilt virus affects thrips at the molecular level. Badillo-Vargas is identifying which of the insect's proteins interact with the virus. In doing so, he and other researchers can target these proteins with genetic techniques that could turn off the insect's immunity to the virus.

"The idea is that this may keep the insect from being able to spread the virus anymore," Badillo-Vargas said. "It could stop the insect from being able to carry the tomato spotted wilt virus or even kill the insect with the virus because its defense system would be gone. Ultimately it would let us control the spread of the virus and also the insect itself, which is an agricultural pest and disease vector."

Badillo-Vargas is developing a RNA interference, or RNAi -- a short sequence of genetic information that could knock down the insect's protective genes. The RNAi could be delivered through a spray that only affects thrips or possibly even delivered to thrips by the plants themselves.

Badillo-Vargas is using a partial transcriptome of the thrip's genes that was produced by Dorith Rotenberg, research assistant professor of plant pathology. The transcriptome is a scientific tool that acts as a reference catalog for certain genes in the thrips. Rotenberg is working to sequence the thrip's genome, which will be a complete genetic blueprint of the insect and all of its genes.

"With the partial transcriptome I'm starting to look at certain genes that I believe can be silenced with RNAi because they have a potential interaction between the virus and the insect," Badillo-Vargas said. "Some of these molecules were able to be silenced in other insects when RNAi tools were used on them. In some cases it even killed the insect."

The research will build on a study by Badillo-Vargas that was published in the August 2012 edition of the Journal of Virology. It compared the differential proteins expressed by healthy thrips with those from thrips infected with the tomato spotted wilt virus. It showed that thrips have an early response to the virus infection and when the virus is the most active.

"I was thrilled to learn that Ismael had received this fellowship," said Anna Whitfield, associate professor of plant pathology and Badillo-Vargas' major adviser. "It's very competitive and many people apply, but very few are selected. It's a wonderful fellowship that will benefit Ismael professionally and advance research on tomato spotted wilt virus and thrips."


'/>"/>
Contact: Ismael E. Badillo-Vargas
ibadillo@k-state.edu
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. A fragrant new biofuel
2. Record-breaking grant: New research project to investigate the causes of mental disorders
3. WHOI researchers, collaborators receive $1.4 million grant to study life in oceans greatest depths
4. ASBMB wins National Science Foundation grant to enhance K-12 science education
5. Scientist wins $3 million renewal of one of longest-running NIH grants to Scripps Research
6. Kinesiology team gets $975,000 Defense grant to study effects of heavy loads on soldiers
7. Michael J. Fox Foundation grant to Dr. Samuel Young will provide Parkinsons drug development tools
8. UC Riverside receives grant for global health and development research
9. Biology professor secures grant to save West Virginias primary natural history collection
10. Lawson recieves Grand Challenges Explorations grant for groundbreaking research
11. Scripps Florida scientists awarded $8.4 million grant to develop new anti-smoking treatments
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/20/2016)... 20, 2016  VoiceIt is excited to announce ... By working together, VoiceIt and VoicePass ... and VoicePass take slightly different approaches to voice ... security and usability. ... new partnership. "This marketing and technology ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... , May 12, 2016 WearablesResearch.com ... just published the overview results from the Q1 wave ... the recent wave was consumers, receptivity to a program ... data with a health insurance company. "We ... to share," says Michael LaColla , CEO of ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... VILNIUS, Lithuania , May 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... today released the MegaMatcher Automated Biometric Identification ... deployment of large-scale multi-biometric projects. MegaMatcher ABIS can ... and accuracy using any combination of fingerprint, face ... of MegaMatcher SDK and MegaMatcher ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... , ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers use the z-dimension ... are higher end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of 20mm. Z-dimension ... bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several Agilent flow cell ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   Boston Biomedical ... novel compounds designed to target cancer stemness pathways, ... been granted Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. ... of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. ... designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways by targeting ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... Plate® YM (Yeast and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval ... of microbial tests introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... the launch of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., ... the future of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: