They're under attack by entomologist Diane Ullman of UC Davis and her team of eight other investigators.
Ullman just received a five-year, $3.75 million grant from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, United States Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, to develop and implement a national scientific and educational network to limit thrips-caused crop losses.
Yes, you've seen thrips or the damage they've caused. Probably on your tomato or red pepper plants, for example. They pierce a wide variety of agricultural crops, ranging from tomatoes and grapes to strawberries and soybeans. They're direct pests. And they transmit plant viruses in the genus Tospovirus, such as Tomato spotted wilt virus.
She's been researching thrips and tospoviruses since 1987.
Ullman and co-principal investigator John Sherwood, head of the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., will alternate years as program directors. Sherwood, a past president of the American Phytopathological Society (APS), is a former program leader of the Plant Biosecurity Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Services (CSREES) and the USDA program leader for the joint Microbial Observatories Program with the National Science Foundation.
Read more about the grant on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website and who's involved.
This is massive nationwide effort against pests that cause billions of dollars in damage to U.S. agricultural crops. Let the grant begin!
Western flower thrips. (Photo by Jack Kelly Clark, courtesy of entomologist Diane Ullman)