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Transmission of Squash vein yellowing virus to and From Cucurbit Weeds and Effects on Sweetpotato Whitefly (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) Behavior

D. Shrestha, H. J. McAuslane, S. T. Adkins, H. A. Smith, N. Dufault, S. E. Webb
Environmental entomology 2016 v.45 no.4 pp. 967-973
plant viruses, agroecosystems, Bemisia tabaci, plant diseases and disorders, watermelons, oviposition, hosts, cucumbers, Citrullus lanatus, Melothria pendula, Cucumis, leaves, Squash vein yellowing virus, Momordica charantia, viruses, biological resistance, eggs, weeds, inoculum
Since 2003, growers of Florida watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. and Nakai] have periodically suffered large losses from a disease caused by Squash vein yellowing virus (SqVYV), which is transmitted by the whitefly Middle East-Asia Minor 1 (MEAM1), formerly Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) biotype B. Common cucurbit weeds like balsam apple (Momordica charantia L.) and smellmelon [Cucumis melo var. dudaim (L.) Naud.] are natural hosts of SqVYV, and creeping cucumber (Melothria pendula L.) is an experimental host. Study objectives were to compare these weeds and ‘Mickylee’ watermelon as sources of inoculum for SqVYV via MEAM1 transmission, to determine weed susceptibility to SqVYV, and to evaluate whitefly settling and oviposition behaviors on infected vs. mock-inoculated (inoculated with buffer only) creeping cucumber leaves. We found that the lowest percentage of watermelon recipient plants was infected when balsam apple was used as a source of inoculum. Watermelon was more susceptible to infection than balsam apple or smellmelon. However, all weed species were equally susceptible to SqVYV when inoculated by whitefly. For the first 5 h after release, whiteflies had no preference to settle on infected vs. mock-inoculated creeping cucumber leaves. After 24 h, whiteflies preferred to settle on mock-inoculated leaves, and more eggs were laid on mock-inoculated creeping cucumber leaves than on SqVYV-infected leaves. The transmission experiments (source of inoculum and susceptibility) show these weed species as potential inoculum sources of the virus. The changing settling preference of whiteflies from infected to mock-inoculated plants could lead to rapid spread of virus in the agroecosystem.