Funded projects (past and present):
A. Virus-Vector Interactions:
1. Israeli Ministry of Science and French Ministry of Education- Israeli-french collaborative project. Duration: 2006-2008. Tiltle: Characterization of symbionts associated with Bemisia tabaci: towards the development of innovative pest control methods. Principal Investigator.
2. Binational Agricultural Research & Development Fund (BARD). Duration: 2007-2010. Title: Dissection of whitefly-geminivirus interactions at the transcriptomic, proteomic and cellular levels. Principal Investigator.
3. Israel Science Foundation (ISF). Duration: 2007-2011. Title: Comparative genomics of virus circulative transmission by two Homopteran insect pests to agriculture, the whitefly Bemisia tabaci and the green peach aphid Myzus persicae. Principal Investigator.
4. German-Israeli Foundation (GIF). Duration: 2007-2010. Title: Identification of genes involved in circular transmission of begomoviruses in whiteflies. Collaborating Investigator.
5. Field Crops Board. Duration: 2010-2012. Title: Reasons for "Malali" watermelons collapse in Israel and possible solutions. Principal Investigator.
B. Resistance to insecticides and resistance management
6. Makhteshim Chemical Works. Duration: continuous since 2005. Title: Development of new insecticides: their biological activity and mode of action. Principal Invistigator.
7. Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Agriculture - Plant Protection Panel. Duration: 2007-2008. Title: Development of resistance management program for the pear psylla. Collaborating Investigator.
8. Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fresh Herbs Growers Board. Duration: 2009-2012. Title: Management of Bemisia tabaci in fresh herbs. Principal Investigator.
9. Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fresh Herbs Growers Board. Duration: 2009-2012. Title: Management of Thrips tabaci in Chives. Collaborating Investigator.
C. Interactions with Plant Secondary Metabolites
10. Binational Science Foundation (BSF). Duration: 2008-2012. Title: Comparative analysis of nicotine resistance in Myzus persicae and Bemisia tabaci. Principal Investogator.
11. Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Agriculture - Biotechnology Panel. Duration: 2009-2011. Title: Exploring natural plant- defense mechanisms as a new strategy for pest control. Principal Investigator.
12. Israel Science Foundation (ISF). Duration: 2005-2008. Title: Shift of female sex pheromone composition and male response of the vine mealybug and the corresponding genetic differences of the population. Collaborating Investigator.
My lab is studying sap-sucking pests that damage plants by direct feeding, and by transmitting economically important plant viruses. The main insect we study is the whitefly Bemisia tabaci (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). B. tabaci is extremely polyphagous and is very efficient vector of plant viruses that belong to different virus families. The most economically important viruses vectored by B. tabaci belong to begomoviruses (Geminiviridae), which contain circular ssDNA genomes, and can be monopartite (genome in one virion) or bipartite (genome in two virions). Several aspects of B. tabaci research is being conducted in my lab and many of our projects rely on biological, anatomical, molecular and genomic resources and data that we have developed over the years for B. tabaci research, in collaboration with other groups. One of the main resources that we have recently developed is a 6,000 EST microarray from B. tabaci.
Main research areas are detailed herein:
1. Interactions between B. tabaci and begomoviruses particularly Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV). Our main hypothesis is that the presence and circulation of TYLCV in B. tabaci body involves changes in gene expression in the insect genome. More importantly, we look for genes involved in the the recognition and transport of TYLCV virions in B. tabaci.
Confocal image showing TYLCV localization in B. tabaci midgut (A) and control (B)
2. Characterization of secondary symbionts of Bemisia tabaci and their effects on the insect's biology, including their involvement in plant pathogen transmission.
The above poster presents localization of different endosymbionts of B. tabaci in different developmental stages using FISH with specific DNA short oligo probes targeting specific 16s rRNA sequences for each endosymbiont. Red = Portiera; Green = Hamiltonella; Yellow = Arsenophonus; Blue = Rickettsia or Wolbachia.
3. Biological and molecular basis for Bemisia tabaci and thrips resistance to major pesticide groups, including resistance monitoring of these pests in Israel.
The above imgae presents resistance monitoring for B. tabaci and T. tabaci that we regularly perform in cotton and chives fields.