Rank #1: Ep. 13. Horntail snail pest alert and growing plants on Mars
A new invasive snail has been observed near Miami (Florida) in August of 2020. If established, the snail can be problematic in nursery, greenhouse, fruit and vegetable production. Recognition is vital - if you see this snail, please report to state regulatory agencies right away (i.e. Texas Department of Agriculture). We also talk about the practical challenges with growing plants on Mars; something we're all going to encounter in the next 5 years or so... probably.
Growing plants on Mars: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/mars-farming-harder-martian-regolith-soil
Nov 24 2020
Rank #2: Ep. 12. Fraternal Twin of Ethylene in Plants
ACC, or more commonly known as 1-Aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid on the streets, is a precursor to ethylene, the compound most known for its ability to ripen fruit. ACC was not thought to have its own set of functions, but this recent article supports otherwise. A better understanding of plant physiology can lead to a whole new area of plant research, which includes potential management strategies.
Van de Poel, B. 2020. Ethylene’s fraternal twin steals the spotlight. Nat. Plants. 1–2.
Nov 10 2020
Rank #3: Ep. 11. Bacteria in Whiteflies and Diabolical Ironclad Beetles
I've received reports of large migrations of whiteflies recently in the landscape, from Dallas, Austin and even east Texas regions. It's not uncommon to see large clouds of whiteflies when cotton is 'defoliated' in preparation for harvest; however, whiteflies often need some time to get used to their new plant host (acclimation). Changes in endosymbionts, bacteria found inside the insect that commonly have a mutualistic positive relationship with the insect, are a potential explanation for host shift acclimation. For fun, we also talk about the diabolical ironclad beetle and it's incredibly resilient properties that make engineers interested enough to study.
Asplen, M. K., N. Bano, C. M. Brady, N. Desneux, K. R. Hopper, C. Malouines, K. M. Oliver, J. A. White, and G. E. Heimpel. 2014. Specialisation of bacterial endosymbionts that protect aphids from parasitoids. Ecol. Entomol. 39: 736–739.
Hu, F.-Y., and C.-W. Tsai. 2020. Nutritional relationship between Bemisia tabaci and its primary endosymbiont, Portiera aleyrodidarum, during host plant acclimation. Insects. 11: 1–13.
Liu, X. D., and H. F. Guo. 2019. Importance of endosymbionts Wolbachia and Rickettsia in insect resistance development. Curr. Opin. Insect Sci. 33: 84–90.
Kanakala, S., and M. Ghanim. 2019. Global genetic diversity and geographical distribution of Bemisia tabaci and its bacterial endosymbionts. PLoS One. 14.
Weinert, L. A., E. V. Araujo-Jnr, M. Z. Ahmed, and J. J. Welch. 2015. The incidence of bacterial endosymbionts in terrestrial arthropods. Proc. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 282: 3–8.
Vorburger, C. 2018. Symbiont-conferred resistance to parasitoids in aphids – Challenges for biological control. Biol. Control. 116: 17–26.
Oct 27 2020
Rank #4: Ep. 10. Murder Hornet 'Slaughter Phase' and Plant Guttation
The Asian Giant Hornet is one of the many plagues that's hit us in 2020; but as fall approaches, it's thought they will enter the slaughter phase, when they can take out an entire bee hive within hours. Fortunately for us in Texas, recent models suggest that the the Asian Giant Hornet won't establish in Texas due to our suboptimal climate (and because they take "Don't mess with Texas" seriously).
We also discuss new findings on the importance of plant guttation as a nutritional resource for insects and the potential implications for systemic insecticides.
Matsuura, M., and S. F. Sakagami. 1973. A bionomic sketch of the giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, a serious pest for Japanese apiculture. 北海道大學理學部紀要. 19: 125–162.
University of Melbourne. 2020. 'Insect Armageddon': Low doses of the insecticide, Imidacloprid, cause blindness in insects: Findings show even small doses of insecticides reduce capacity of insects to survive. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 September 2020. .
Urbaneja-Bernat, P., A. Tena, J. González-Cabrera, and C. Rodriguez-Saona. 2020. Plant guttation provides nutrient-rich food for insects. Proceedings. Biol. Sci. 287: 20201080.
Zhu, G., J. Gutierrez Illan, C. Looney, and D. W. Crowder. 2020. Assessing the ecological niche and invasion potential of the Asian giant hornet. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 0: 202011441.
Oct 13 2020
Most Popular Podcasts
Rank #5: Ep. 9. Poison Ivy Getting Worse and Beetles Escape Through Frog's Rear End
Increasing levels of CO2 is one of the driving factors for global climate change. This same CO2 also happens to be vital for plant growth via photosynthesis. As a result, fast-growing plants, such as poison ivy, are actually becoming more abundant and more hazardous.
If you were eaten by a frog, how would you survive? Well, these water beetles survive by swimming 'downstream'.
And lastly, here is a link to provide you nightmares of swarms of fungus gnat larvae.
Sep 29 2020
Rank #6: Ep. 8. Watering potted poinsettias
Potted plants are arguably overwatered in the greenhouse and nursery industry. Over-watering can be considered a waste of water, results in leaching of pesticides and fertilizers, and can promote plant pathogens. In this episode, we discuss a study that uses various sensors to assess plant stress to determine how much watering can be reduced before the plant is 'too stressed'.
For the full article:
Nackley, L. L., E. Fernandes de Sousa, B. J. L. Pitton, J. Sisneroz, and L. R. Oki. 2020. Developing a Water-stress Index for Potted Poinsettia Production. HortScience. 55: 1295–1302.
Sep 15 2020
Rank #7: Ep. 7. Whiteflies on Poinsettias
A common assumption is that ornamental plants must be perfectly clean when they hit the retailer. No pests. Nada. This assumption is unrealistic and rather harmful. By making this assumption, we limit our pest management decisions to options that are most likely to kill all the insects: synthetic insecticides. However, how true is it that synthetic insecticides give us perfectly clean plants? And if "zero" pests is unrealistic, what is? Listen to this episode to learn more about a study looking at whitefly densities on poinsettia cuttings received by growers and finished poinsettias that make it to the retailer.
Vafaie, E. K., H. B. Pemberton, M. Gu, D. Kerns, M. D. Eubanks, and K. M. Heinz. 2020. Whitefly Abundance on Rooted Poinsettia Cuttings and Finished Poinsettias. Horttechnology. 1–6.
Sep 01 2020
Rank #8: Ep. 6. Jolly Green Crime
We often associated federal crimes with illegal drugs, guns or human trafficking, but rarely do we consider that selling plants and insects can be illegal, especially if imported without a permit. In this episode, we discuss two popular science articles that discuss federal investigations into plant and insect smugglers.
Aug 18 2020
Rank #9: Ep. 5. Cucumber Mosaic Virus Increases Plant Fertility
The cucumber mosaic virus is a plant virus vectored by aphids. The virus can decrease yields, which would ultimately result in the plant produce less progeny. In a natural environment, we would expect high virus pressure to quickly result in selection for virus-resistant plants. However, the virus counteracts the negative impact on plant fertility by manipulating plant physiology to make it more attractive to pollinators!
Full citation below:
Groen, S.C., Jiang, S., Murphy, A.M., Cunniffe, N.J., Westwood, J.H., Davey, M.P., Bruce, T.J.A., Caulfield, J.C., Furzer, O.J., Reed, A., Robinson, S.I., Miller, E., Davis, C.N., Pickett, J.A., Whitney, H.M., Glover, B.J., Carr, J.P., 2016. Virus Infection of Plants Alters Pollinator Preference: A Payback for Susceptible Hosts? PLoS Pathog. 12, 1–28. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1005790
Aug 04 2020
Rank #10: Ep. 4. Impact of Soil Fungi on Milkweed Plants
The soil harbors all kinds of fungi; some beneficial and some detrimental to the health of plants. A specific class of fungi, known as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of plants that's associated with over 80% of plant species globally. These fungi can help alter plant defense traits against herbivores or help provide nutrients to plants. In episode, we digest a study specific to AMF of milkweed plants and how it can impact performance of monarch butterfly caterpillars and aphids.
Full citation to study:
Meier, A. R., & Hunter, M. D. (2018). Mycorrhizae alter toxin sequestration and performance of two specialist herbivores. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 6: 1 - 16.
Jul 21 2020