This award supports an international symposium on the interactions between herbivorous hemipteran insects and the plants on which they feed. The interactions between herbivorous Hemiptera and their host plants has been the subject of many scientific studies because herbivorous Hemiptera comprise some of the world's worst agricultural pests. Their mouthparts are designed as miniature hypodermic needles, similar to those of mosquitoes, but they feed on plant sap rather than blood. Just the same as the specialized feeding mechanism of mosquitoes makes them important vectors of animal diseases, herbivorous hemipterans are the most important vectors worldwide of plant diseases, including diseases of crop plants. Their hypodermic needle-like mouthparts are thin enough to pierce individual plant cells which allow these insects to specialize feeding on particular cell types. This ability has led to the evolution of intimate physiological interactions between these insects and the plants upon which they feed. Consequently, major future advances in the study of these interactions will require an interdisciplinary approach that brings together entomologists and plant physiologists. Studies of these interactions provides the biological foundation for determining mechanisms of plant resistance against these insects and for understanding the mechanisms of transmission of plant pathogens by hemipteran vectors, both areas of increasing importance as a growing world populations stretches our agricultural resources thin. Entomologists and plant biologists working in isolation can advance this field only so far. Future major advances in Hemiptera-plant interactions will require intimate collaboration between entomologists and plant biologists, and therein lies the importance of this symposium: to bring together entomologists and plant biologists to exchange ideas and forge new collaborations. With an eye to the future, the travel support from NSF will go primarily to new young investigators in order to foster interdisciplinary collaborations early in their careers.
Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000225 EndHTML:0000010396 StartFragment:0000002614 EndFragment:0000010360 SourceURL:file://localhost/files/HPIS%20meetings/Brazillian%20Symposium/NSF%20Proposal/Project%20Outcomes%20Report.doc Project Outcomes Report Project Title: Conference: Hemipteran-Plant Interactions Symposium, July 11-14, 2011, Brazil PI: Greg Walker, University of California-Riverside NSF Award Number: 1105567 This project supported an international symposium on the interactions between herbivorous hemipteran insects and the plants on which they feed. Most of these insects feed on plant sap, and loss of sap to these insects results in reduction of crop productivity and, if severe enough, plant death. In addition, these insects are responsible for transmission of most plant viruses and other infectious agents that cause plant disease. As a result of this "double threat" (direct feeding damage and transmission of plant pathogens), this group of insects includes some of the worst agricultural pests in the United States and throughout the world. Consequently, these insects have been the subject of many scientific studies worldwide. This is one reason why an international symposium provides an ideal venue for scientists throughout the world to gather, learn from each other, and exchange ideas on a mutual problem than affects us all. The symposium was held July 11-14, 2011 at ESALQ/University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil. The $13,000 NSF contribution to the symposium provided travel funds for graduate students and early career scientists in the United States as well as those in developing nations to attend the meeting. The NSF support helped cover travel expenses for one US PhD student, one US postdoctoral scientist, two US early career assistant/associate professors, one US late career professor, two graduate students from developing nations, and three career scientists from developing nations. All NSF supported participants were required to present their own research findings at the symposium. The symposium focused specifically on herbivorous hemipteran insects for two major reasons. First, the manner in which they feed on plants and inflict damage is very unique to these insects. Instead of chewing plants as do grasshoppers, caterpillars and beetles, these insects have highly modified mouthparts that are designed as miniature hypodermic needles, similar to those of mosquitoes, but they feed on plant sap rather than blood. Their hypodermic needle-like mouthparts are thin enough to pierce individual plant cells which allow these insects to specialize feeding on particular cell types. In many cases, the insects need to keep the cells alive as they extract sap from them. This has led to the evolution of intimate physiological interactions between these insects and the plants upon which they feed. These interactions are complex and involve specializations and strategies of the insects that enable them to feed on specific plant cell types and to deal with the plant responses to their feeding that renders the plants either susceptible or resistant to the insects. This makes the study of these insects an interdisciplinary field involving both entomologists and plant physiologists/molecular biologists. The symposium was organized specifically to bring together entomologists that study these insects and plant physiologists/molecular biologists that study the responses of plants to feeding by these insects. The second major reason for the focus on herbivorous hemipteran insects is their role as the most important group of organisms in the transmission of infectious agents of plant diseases. Plant diseases transmitted by these insects are responsible for major crop losses (sometimes catastrophic) in the US and throughout the world. The mechanisms by which these insects transmit plant pathogens is very complex and involves three-way interactions between plants, insects, and pathogens. Thus again, this is an interdisciplinary area of research, and consequently the symposium also included plant pathologists in addition to entomologists and plant physiologists/molecular biologists. Traditional field-focused entomology, plant pathology, and plant molecular biology meetings do not provide a great opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration and exchange of ideas. Consequently, this symposium was organized to be interdisciplinary and focused on interaction among these insects, the plants on which they feed, and the plant diseases that they transmit. The symposium was very successful. The desired interdisciplinary flavor of the symposium was achieved by presentations and participation of international experts in the fields of entomology, plant physiology & molecular biology, and plant pathology. There were 138 registered persons consisting of about 70% academics/professionals and 30% students. Nineteen countries were represented including 27 participants from the US. Evaluation forms from the participants were very positive.