Several phytovirus are able to influence the behavior and biological development of insect vectors, especially aphids, in order to favor its spread among host plants, but little is known about the effects of viral infections on whiteflies. Considering the importance of Bemisia tabaci as a pest and vector of phytovirus, this project will investigate if its eating behavior and/or performance are influenced by biological infection of crinivirus Tomato chlorosis virus (ToCV) on the host plant (indirect effect) or own insect vector (direct effect). First, the preference will be evaluated for landing and behavior arrestant of B. tabaci biotype B in tomato plants healthy and infected with ToCV. Then, the feeding behavior of healthy adults of B. tabaci in tomato plants healthy and infected with ToCV will be compared by the 'Electrical Penetration Graph' (EPG) technique, which allows the monitoring of the activities by the insect during stylet penetration. Finally, we will evaluate the direct and indirect effects on biological parameters of ToCV on B. tabaci biotype B such as duration and viability of immature stages, sex ratio, fecundity, fertility and longevity of adults. Such studies are extremely important for understanding virus-vector relationship and the epidemiology of viral infection, because it will indicate whether the ToCV is able to manipulate the biological performance and/or the behavior of its vector as a strategy to optimize its natural spread.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: