My name is Astri Wayadande (Ph.D 1991, The Ohio State University) and I am a vector entomologist focusing on transmission biology of insects that transmit plant and human disease pathogens. Arthropod-transmitted pathogens, regardless of the host, have an intimate relationship with their vectors. I am interested in understanding the interactions between plant-infecting bacteria and viruses and their vectors at the organismal and cellular level, particularly pathways through vector tissue barriers. To do this I employ a number of technologies, but in particular electropenetrography (EPG), to study the feeding behavior of these vectors and understand when and how pathogen acquisition and inoculation occur during the feeding process. Using EPG, I study leafhopper, aphid, and true bug probing activities to understand how virus and bacterial transmission is accomplished to different kinds of plant hosts. Similarly, I use EPG to better understand vectors of human disease pathogens. In this area my interests include the mosquito vector of arboviruses (including Zika), Aedes aegypti and the sandfly vector of Leishmania trypanosomes, Phlebotomus papatasi. I am currently funded to work on two major research efforts; 1. To understand how transgenic insect vectors of plant viruses may have altered inoculation behaviors and 2. Identification of genetic differences between leafhopper vectors and non-vectors of plant disease pathogens.
- B.S., University of California at Davis, Entomology
- M.S., University of Missouri, Entomology
- Ph.D., Ohio State University, Entomology
- Postdoc, Oklahoma State University, Plant Pathology
Fast diagnostic tools developed to stop pests at US borders: Advanced diagnostic capabilities are needed to quickly assess presence/absence of key plant pathogens or pathogen vectors at US border facilities. Two publications from my lab recently addressed this need by providing primers and PCR-based methodology to quickly assess presence of 1. Important cereal-infecting pathogens in a single sample and 2. Distinguish between low impact whiteflies from invading whitefly species in a single sample. When deployed, these tools will enable border agents to quickly assess biosecurity status of specific samples and more quickly and accurately make decisions regarding importation of goods into US ports.
National Science Foundation: GoLife: Leafhoppers (Family Cicadellidae) are some of the most important vectors of plant pathogenic viruses and bacteria. Within the family, there are over 70 subfamilies and only a few of these contain known vectors of phytopathogens. In an effort to understand the molecular basis for vector competence, we are comparing whole sequence genomes and transcriptomes of key vector species to those of non-vectors. Thus far, six leafhoppers have been sequenced, assembled and annotated with varying levels of success. Analysis of the transcriptome sequences has revealed several differences in key functional genes which suggest that non-vectors may lack the cellular machinery to move bacteria or viruses through the body barriers. Eventually we hope to exploit this information to reduce leafhopper vector competence.