Transmitting plant viruses using whiteflies.
Whiteflies, Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae, Bemisia tabaci, a complex of morphologically indistinquishable species(5), are vectors of many plant viruses. Several genera of these whitefly-transmitted plant viruses (Begomovirus, Carlavirus, Crinivirus, Ipomovirus, Torradovirus) include several hundred species of emerging and economically significant pathogens of important food and fiber crops (reviewed by(9,10,16)). These viruses do not replicate in their vector but nevertheless are moved readily from plant to plant by the adult whitefly by various means (reviewed by(2,6,7,9,10,11,17)). For most of these viruses whitefly feeding is required for acquisition and inoculation, while for others only probing is required. Many of these viruses are unable or cannot be easily transmitted by other means. Therefore maintenance of virus cultures, biological and molecular characterization (identification of host range and symptoms)(3,13), ecology(2,12), require that the viruses be transmitted to experimental hosts using the whitefly vector. In addition the development of new approaches to management, such as evaluation of new chemicals(14) or compounds(15), new cultural approaches(1,4,19), or the selection and development of resistant cultivars(7,8,18), requires the use of whiteflies for virus transmission. The use of whitefly transmission of plant viruses for the selection and development of resistant cultivars in breeding programs is particularly challenging(7). Effective selection and screening for resistance employs large numbers of plants and there is a need for 100% of the plants to be inoculated in order to find the few genotypes which possess resistance genes. These studies use very large numbers of viruliferous whiteflies, often several times per year. Whitefly maintenance described here can generate hundreds or thousands of adult whiteflies on plants each week, year round, without the contamination of other plant viruses. Plants free of both whiteflies and virus must be produced to introduce into the whitefly colony each week. Whitefly cultures must be kept free of whitefly pathogens, parasites, and parasitoids that can reduce whitefly populations and/or reduce the transmission efficiency of the virus. Colonies produced in the manner described can be quickly scaled to increase or decrease population numbers as needed, and can be adjusted to accommodate the feeding preferences of the whitefly based on the plant host of the virus. There are two basic types of whitefly colonies that can be maintained: a nonviruliferous and a viruliferous whitefly colony. The nonviruliferous colony is composed of whiteflies reared on virus-free plants and allows the weekly availability of whiteflies which can be used to transmit viruses from different cultures. The viruliferous whitefly colony, composed of whiteflies reared on virus-infected plants, allows weekly availability of whiteflies which have acquired the virus thus omitting one step in the virus transmission process.