A revelation in controlling whiteflies
An international team effort by scientists from Cornell University, USA, and Zhejiang University, China, has uncovered details of a symbiotic relationship between bacteria and Bemisia tabaci – a whitefly pest that transmits a number of viruses that can ruin crops. The study found that Hamiltonella defensa bacteria use the flies to replicate, passing from mother insect to offspring through their eggs. Meanwhile, whiteflies rely on the bacteria to provide essential amino acids that are missing from their food source. When the bugs were treated with antibiotics that kill H. defensa, the flies could no longer grow and reproduce. Since whiteflies are one of the biggest problems in crop agriculture worldwide, these findings shine some light on how we could combat them in the future.