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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Punya Nachappa


Department of Biology


From its original discovery in 2008, the Soybean vein necrosis virus (SVNV), first prevalent in Tennessee, has since spread to fifteen states in the Northern region. Typically vectored by thrips, the Tospovirus genus virus’ effects are gaining attention even as SVNV’s agricultural importance has yet to be fully assessed. Currently, soybean thrips is considered the primary vector or most efficient transmitter of the virus, whereas tobacco thrips and eastern flower thrips are secondary vectors. The purpose of this study was the following: Investigate the mechanism by which thrips spread the virus from plant to plant by conducting choice tests. Choice tests were conducted in enclosed structures to isolate an individual leaf connected to two distinct living plants. Six SVNV-infected thrips were released inside the enclosure. This allowed for random choice of the thrips. The choice-test can explain whether infected thrips (1) prefer to feed on uninfected plants rather than infected plants or (2) thrips show no feeding preference at all. A series of twenty non-choice tests were completed using two uninfected plants to reveal thrips preference in a control setting. The results showed an approximately 1:1 preference for the two leaves, which laid the groundwork to support the non-random preference of virus transmittance. A second set of twenty choice tests were completed using one infected and one non-infected plant to reveal thrips preference. The choice-test showed all of the infected thrips preferred to feed on the uninfected plant. This suggests that as SVNV-infected thrips feed and infect a healthy plant their offspring will become infected which could lead to increased virus transmission as a result of increased population of viruliferous thrips.



Thrips Choice Tests on Uninfected/Infected Soybean Plants Demonstrate Mechanism of SVNV Transmittance

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