Emerging Virus Diseases Transmitted by Whiteflies

Annual Review of Phytopathology

Vol. 49:219-248 (Volume publication date September 2011)


Virus diseases that have emerged in the past two decades limit the production of important vegetable crops in tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions worldwide, and many of the causal viruses are transmitted by whiteflies (order Hemiptera, family Aleyrodidae). Most of these whitefly-transmitted viruses are begomoviruses (family Geminiviridae), although whiteflies are also vectors of criniviruses, ipomoviruses, torradoviruses, and some carlaviruses. Factors driving the emergence and establishment of whitefly-transmitted diseases include genetic changes in the virus through mutation and recombination, changes in the vector populations coupled with polyphagy of the main vector, Bemisia tabaci, and long distance traffic of plant material or vector insects due to trade of vegetables and ornamental plants. The role of humans in increasing the emergence of virus diseases is obvious, and the effect that climate change may have in the future is unclear.