ENY 5405 Insect Vectors of Plant Pathogens

ENY 5405 Insect Vectors of Plant Pathogens


This course presents current information on insect, other arthropod and nematode vectors of plant pathogens, and the role and management of these vectors in agricultural and environmental areas. The material discussed in this course deals with the identification and morphology of important vectors and how these features affect transmission of plant pathogens.


Students must have an introductory course in entomology (ENY3005, ENY5006, or equivalent) completed before beginning this course. An introductory course in plant pathology would be helpful, but is not required.

Course Format

Location: Online

Course Goals

The goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the biology of arthropods and nematodes and the role they play in the spread of different plant pathogens. This course was designed to foster your creative and critical thinking skills by directing you through an independent exploration of weekly topics. The lectures begin by providing introductory material and readings to provide you with the background necessary to understand the topic. Questions will be posed during the lectures that will direct your exploration of the literature.

Writing assignments are designed to help you improve your scientific writing skills and provide you an outlet for demonstrating your comprehension of the topic. As the semester advances lectures will become shorter and you will be asked to pose questions and provide answers. By the end of the semester you should be more comfortable with this higher-level inquiry-based learning approach (that is expected from graduate students and research scientists) and that you have a new appreciation for insects as vectors of plant pathogens.


Module Topic
Week 1Guest lecture: Historical background of vector-borne plant disease
Week 2Guest lecture: Mechanisms of insect transmission of plant pathogens
Week 3Ecological aspects of insect transmission of plant pathogens
Week 4Guest lecture: Classification and biology of vectors (aphids, leafhoppers, whiteflies, nematodes, others)
Week 5Guest lecture: Psyllids, vectors of citrus greening
Week 6Case studies:
A. Sharpshooter leafhoppers, vectors of Xylella fastidiosa
B. Leafhoppers, vector of Phytoplasmas and Spiroplasmas
Week 7Mechanisms of nematode transmission of plant pathogens
Week 8I-Non persistent viruses Case study: The majority of potyviruses (aphids)
Week 9II-Semi-persistent viruses Case study: Citrus tristeza virus
III-Persistent viruses.Case study: Geminiviruses such as Tomato yellow leaf curl virus
Week 10Guest lecture: Rose rosette disease and mites as vectors
Week 11Introduction to fungal plant pathogens: Classification
Week 12Fungal/insect symbiosis and commensalism
Week 13Insects that vector fungal organisms Case studies: Chestnut blight, Dutch elm disease and Laurel wilt
Week 14Bioterrorism intro.
Week 15Border patrol, and the use of insect vectored plant pathogens.
Week 16Group Project