Seminar: Insect Symbionts as Biocontrol Agents Against Plant Pathogens

Dr. Einat Zchori-Fein, Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Center, Israel
Credit: Einat Zchori Fein, Agricultural Research Organization (image cropped)

Credit: Einat Zchori Fein, Agricultural Research Organization (image cropped)

Date and Location

When (Date/Time)

November 15, 2017, 11:10 AM - 12:10 PM


101 ASI

Add to calendar


Dr. Zchori-Fein's visit to Penn State is jointly hosted by her former adviser Dean Roush, the Department of Entomology, and the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology.

Dr. Einat Zchori-Fein is a researcher in the Department of Entomology, Newe Ya'ar Research Center, Agricultural Research Organization, Israel. Her research focuses on interactions between insect pests and symbiotic bacteria, with special emphasis on the diversity and phenotypes of secondary symbionts of the sweet potato whitefly Bemisia tabaci, horizontal transmission of secondary symbionts, and the multi-trophic interactions among plants, plant pathogens, arthropod vectors, and natural enemies.


Phloem restricted bacterial pathogens pose a major threat in many agricultural crops. Because the conventional application of chemical sprays is inefficient, endophytes have been suggested as a potential reservoir for innovative control approaches. We hypothesized that insects that are involved in the transmission of plant pathogens may harbor microbes that affect disease agents. The study reported is focused on a bacterium that was isolated from the planthopper Hyalesthes obsoletus (Hemiptera: Cixiidae), the insect vector of Bois noir disease. The isolate belongs to the bacterial family Rhodanobacteraceae, and is placed in a basal position within the poorly resolved Dyella-Frateuria-Rhodanobacter clade. This isolate could be introduced into a number of healthy and infected crop plants, and its presence in plant tissues was confirmed up to four weeks post inoculation. In the presence of the isolate, symptoms of disease-causing agents such as Phytoplasma and Liberibacter were markedly reduced in both laboratory and field experiments. Taken together, the results demonstrate that insects that serve as vectors for plant pathogens may be a useful source for potentially beneficial bacteria.

Contact Information