Our laboratory studies transmission of plant pathogens by insects. Research is aimed at understanding ecological and molecular aspects of plant-insect-pathogen interactions. We use Zebra Chip (ZC),an emergent disease affecting solanaceous plants, as model system. The causative agent, “Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum”, is an alpha-proteobacterium vectored y the potato/tomato psyllid Bactericera cockerelli. We currently use genetic and biochemical approaches to investigate different aspects of pathogen transmission and the biology of the vector insect.
Current ZC projects are:
- Molecular and ecological interaction between pathogen and vector
- Effectsof plant induced defense on vector and other herbivorous insects
- Effects of pathogen transmission on tri-trophic interactions
Other projects in the lab include study of virus transmission by aphids, bacteria-insect interactions and biology of the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri.