Principle investigator

Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski
Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski

Associate Professor
Entomology
Phone : 863.956.8666
Email : pelzstelinski@ufl.edu

Research

My research program focuses on the biology and microbial ecology of insect vectors of plant diseases. Currently, I am investigating transmission of the Huanglongbing (HLB) pathogen Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las) by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri,to further the development of successful ACP management programs. Aspects of this research include evaluating the effects of Las on ACP fitness and investigating the distribution and function of ACP endosymbionts. View more ...

Post docs

Heather Kingdom-Gibbard
Heather Kingdom-Gibbard

Entomology and Nematology
Phone: 863.956.8667
Email: hkgibbard@ufl.edu

Research

I am an Entomologist with a key interest in vector insect reproduction and dispersal. My research examines how these behaviors are affected by insect interactions with pathogens they transmit, symbionts they harbor and their environment.

Here at the Citrus Research and Education Center, University of Florida, i am investigating how Asian citrus psyllid fitness, reproduction and dispersal is affected by interactions with Candidatus Liberibacter Asiaticus (the causal agent of citrus greening in Florida), and other bacterial symbionts within the insect. Additionally, i examine how D. citri is affected by seasonal changes in environmental conditions.

My previous research has encompassed phytoplasma-insect-plant interactions. Phytoplasmas are plant pathogenic bacteria that are vectored by phloem feeding insects such as leafhoppers. I found that an aster yellows phytoplasma strain both directly and indirectly increases survival and fecundity of two leafhopper species, and alters their host selection and feeding behavior. This has wide implications in the potential spread of phytoplasmas. In addition, I have worked with black flies( Simuliidae Spp.), wood ants( Formica spp.), and aphids myzus percicae and Acrythosiphon pisum . View more ...

Mark Hoffman
Mark Hoffman

Entomology and Nematology
Phone : 863.956.8667
Email : mark.hoffmann@ufl.edu

Ongoing projects

1) Diversity of Wolbachia in Diaphorina citri (Kuwayama)

The genus Wolbachia is one of the most common bacterial endosymbionts in arthropods. It is able to cause a wide range of effects on physiology, reproduction and life span of its host, ranging from essential effects on host reproduction to life shortening. In pest management, particular Wolbachia strains could be introduced into insects to reduce their vector competence, especially in dengue fever control. The Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP, Diaphorina citri) is also host organism for Wolbachia. To investigate as to how (native and artificial) Wolbachia strains can be utilized as a potential tool to control citrus greening (huanglongbing, HLB), a basic knowledge about "what is there?" is essential. Currently I am investigating these questions by assessing the diversity of Wolbachia in Florida ACP populations.

2) Impact of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus on the behavior of Diaphorina citri (Kuwayama)

The Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP, Diaphorina citri) is vector of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las), the causal agent of citrus greening (huanglongbin, HLB). Currently HLB control is highly depending on monitoring and controlling the ACP by the application of insecticides. Knowledge about as to whether and how Las influencing the ACP behavior could be critical in terms of insecticide application plans and monitoring strategies. At the Citrus Research and Education Center, I am investigating the impact of Las on the behavior of the ACP, particularly on its ability to spread HLB. View more ...

Calum Russell
Calum Russell

Entomology
Phone: 863.956.8667
Email: cwrussell@ufl.edu

Research

I obtained my PhD from the Departement of Entomology at Cornell University in June 2013. My thesis work dealt with determining how Buchnera aphidicola, the intracellular endosymbiosic bacteria within aphids, produced essential amino acids when several key genes coding for enzymes were missing from its genome. Our work showed that aphid enzymes were mediating these missing reactions, and that both the host and the bacteria were required to make certain essential amino acids. I am currently a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski's lab working on the Asian citrus psyllid, their endosymbionts, and the pathogene Liberibacter asiaticus. My research interests range from determining the contribution of the resident endosymbionts to psyllid physiology, to the interactions between the endosymbionts and the Liberibacter pathogen, and to the nutritional physiology of the psyllids.

Students

Alex
Alex Arp

Associate Professor
Entomology
Phone: 863.956.8667
Email: aarp@ufl.edu

Research

I am a PhD student of Entomology at the University f Florida. My research interests center on insect pathogen vectors and how their microbial symbionts and immune systems affect disease transmission. My current research is investigating factors affecting Asian citrus psyllid transmission of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus . I completed my master's degree at the University of Texas at Tyler with research investigating population genetics of the potato psyllid and factors affecting regional differences in the potato psyllid microbial community. Using pyrosequencing I was able to determine that there are specific regional shifts in microbial community but these did not change annualy and were not related to psyllid haplotype.

Technical staff

Yolani Tribuani Michael Flores Kacey Gmitter Ashley Dalton
Yolani Tribuani
(Lab manager)
Michael Flores Kacey Gmitter Ashley Dalton