Vector control goes viral

Bird cherry-oat aphid, a significant vector of barley yellow dwarf virus in wheat. Credit: David Cappaert, Michigan State University,

Whether it’s measles, mumps or just the common cold, we’ve all suffered from a virus at some point, and so do crops. While we might try to avoid the person coughing and sneezing in the corner, the problem with many viruses (both human and plant) is that those carrying the disease are not always obvious. Attaching a large, neon sign to an infected human would probably be considered slightly unethical, but pointing out the most virulent plant disease carriers is exactly what new research will enable scientists to do to vectors like aphids and whiteflies.

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