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25th International Congress of Entomology, Florida, USA 25th – 30th September 2016
For more than 100 years the International Congress of Entomology (ICE) gathers interdisciplinary scientists studying insects and their interactions with other organisms and the environment. Following the ICE in Daegu, South Korea four years ago, this time the world’s biggest Entomology meeting took place in Orlando, Florida (http://ice2016orlando. org/).
Several sessions focused on plantmicrobe- insect interactions, including the symposium on the recent advances in studying the interactome of plant hosts, plant pathogenic microbes their insect vectors. The current research aims of the field are to elucidate the mechanisms how plant pathogenic bacteria and viruses have evolved to modulate their insect vectors and plant hosts in order to increase their transmission in nature. For example, C.
Tamborindeguy (Texas A&M, USA) described how the citrus-greening disease causing agent Ca. Liberibacter induces transcriptional changes in its psyllid vectors that are associated with changes in insect fecundity and increased disease transmission. My talk (Hogenhout Lab, JIC, UK) described how effector proteins from leafhoppertransmitted plant pathogenic phytoplasmas interact with a conserved family of plant transcriptional regulators in order to alter plant development and plant resistance to insects. Elucidating the mechanism of bacterial effectors allowed to uncouple the developmental changes (induction of morphological disease symptoms) from the effectortriggered host plant preference by leafhoppers. Reducing the yield loss by plant diseases involves breeding or engineering of disease resistant cultivars, enabled by the understanding of microbial virulence mechanisms and plant targets. Since many bacterial and viral diseases are insect-transmitted, complimentary strategy involves finding insect molecular components that enable pathogen binding to insect mouth parts, allow their replication and delivery in the plant. Emerging number studies address such interactions between insect proteins and viruses.
For example, S. DeBlasio (USDA-ARS) developed high resolution mass spectrometry (AP-MS) based methods to identify Potato leafroll virus (PLRV, genus Polerovirus) proteins that interact with its aphid vector Mysus persicae.
This further allows functional characterisation of the role of such proteins in virus transmission such as the work of M. Ghanim (ARO, Israel) presented in the session.
Understanding how plants defend against herbivore attack as well as mechanisms how insects or insect vectored pathogens modulate herbivore -induced defences may be key to finding genetic components that contribute to crops that are more resistant to both plant diseases and insects that carry them. Similarly, lot of attention in the ICE was earned by insect vector control of human diseases like malaria and Dengue fever. This involves technologies like release of disease-free male insects that pass lethal gene to their offspring in the wild populations of disease-carrying insects (work by biotech company Oxitec, UK).
In addition, there are incentives for novel genetic techniques such as gene drive – engineering of genetic elements to drive the inheritance of antipathogen genes in wild populations of insect pests and vectors of human and plant diseases (J. Marshall, UC Berkeley, USA; N. Grubbs North Carolina State, USA).
Together, the ICE was inspiring demonstration of the true interdisciplinary nature of entomology science. Many molecular biology tools, including genome and transcriptome sequencing, and genetic engineering (including RNAi, CRISPR, HEGs, Medea and UDMEL methods) are empowering entomologists to address numerus basic and applied biology questions.
Zigmunds Orlovskis John Innes Centre Brassica