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Keywords:

  • Bemisia tabaci;
  • biotypes;
  • whitefly-transmitted geminiviruses;
  • phytotoxic responses;
  • host plant adaptation;
  • mating studies

Summary

Eighteen populations of Bemisia tabaci, collected from different geographic locations (North & Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe), were studied to identify and compare biological and genetic characteristics that can be used to differentiate biotypes. The morphology of the fourth instar/pupal stage and compound eye structures of adults were investigated using scanning electron microscopy and found to be typical of the species among all biotypes and populations studied. Setae and spines of B. tabaci larval scales from the same colony were highly variable depending on the host plant species or leaf surface characteristics. The location and the morphology of caudal setae, characteristic of all B. tabaci studied to date, were present in all colonies. However, differences in adult body lengths and in the ability to induce phy to toxic disorders in certain plant species were found between biotypes or populations. The recently identified “B” biotype, characterised by a diagnostic esterase banding pattern and by its ability to induce phytotoxic responses in squash, honeysuckle and nightshade was readily distinguished from non-“B” biotype populations. None of the non-“B” biotypes studied, were found to induce phytotoxic responses. Nine populations examined showed typical “B” biotype characteristics, regardless of country of origin. All tested populations, determined as “B” or “B”-like biotypes successfully mated with other “B” biotype colonies from different geographic areas. Non-“B” biotype colonies did not interbreed with other biotypes.

The B. tabaci populations were tested for their ability to transmit 15 whitefly-transmitted geminiviruses (WTGs) from different geographic areas with a wide range of symptom types. All WTGs were transmitted by the “B” biotype colonies and by most non-“B” biotype colonies, with the exception of three viruses found in ornamental plants which were non-transmissible by any colony. Some non-“B” biotypes would not transmit certain geminiviruses and some geminiviruses were more efficiently transmitted than were others.