Jolly Green Scientists

Erfan Vafaie

There's a plethora of misinformation, marketing, and hear-say related to growing horticultural plants. In this series, we digest replicated scientific data and research shared in popular science magazines (such as GrowerTalks) and share it with you, the listeners. Scientific papers are often behind a 'pay-wall' and riddled with academic jargon. Fortunately for you, both of the hosts of this show have a relatively limited spoken vocabulary and need to speak things out in very simple terms for their own simple minds to grasp them. The hosts, Erfan Vafaie (Entomologist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service) and Vikram Baliga (Horticulturalist with Texas Tech University) are both on the verge of acquiring their PhDs (or not, if things go haywire). On the side, Erfan acts as fool as a part of an improv comedy troupe (Card 53 Comedy) and Vikram hits musical instruments to make harmonious sounds. read less

Ep. 11. Bacteria in Whiteflies and Diabolical Ironclad Beetles
Oct 27 2020
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.Some references: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.