Diagnostic testing for virus & viroid infections in hop

Hops are an important crop worldwide and a key ingredient for beer production. Hop plants (Humulus lupulus) are attractive to many insects and microbes, so disease management is an important part of hop production. Through support from Project GREEEN, we developed and tested molecular diagnostics for hop virus and viroid infections that are common in…

Alumni Feature: Anna Busch, Agronomy Educator with Penn State Extension

M.S., Entomology, Penn State. B.S., Plant Biology, Michigan State University Can you tell us a bit about your current job? Anna: I am an Agronomy Educator with Penn State Extension covering a five-county region. One of the main parts of my job is working with farmers. I teach pesticide education and safety to help farmers…

The future of detecting plant viruses

With the world abuzz about COVID-19 and climate change, viruses are at the forefront of many people’s minds. Over 4,000 viruses have been described to date (1,000 of which infect plants), and many more await detection. Identifying viruses in humans is important to the field of medicine, just as detecting them in plants is important…

Hidden virus infections in wild dryland plants near human landscapes

Worldwide, nature reserves are increasingly surrounded by “domesticated” landscapes that have been converted to housing, industry, and agriculture. But how is human activity and land use influencing ecological dynamics within these remnant wild areas? To investigate how plants in urban and natural areas interact, the Malmstrom lab worked with UC Riverside PhD student Tessa Shates…

Harvest season in full swing

The 2020 harvesting of experimental plots at the MSU Entomology Farm began in NF01 on October 31st. The pictures and videos here show this first day of harvest in action! Studying these long-term plots will aid in the development of switchgrass as a crop to produce biofuel that could be used in vehicles. The yield…

Generalist pest leafhoppers widespread in prairies embedded within working landscapes

The leafhopper family (Cicadellidae, Order Hemiptera) contains over 22,000 species that are common in temperate grasslands, agricultural landscapes, and other vegetation. Leafhoppers are ecologically important, serving as herbivores, prey, and pathogen vectors. Due to their close association with prairies, the conservatism of leafhopper communities also provides valuable information about prairie quality and management. This study…

The Plant Virus Ecology Group

Every other week, the Malmstrom Lab and our research collaborators around the world meet virtually for our Plant Virus Ecology group (PVEG) discussion. The field of plant virus ecology investigates how viruses interact with plants, with insects and other organisms that spread them (vectors), and with their environment. Research in this area aims to understand…

Geometagenomics reveals hidden viruses in biodiversity hotspots

Viruses are elegantly compact microbes that serve myriad roles in ecosystems, but their diversity and influence remains largely uncharted. In this groundbreaking study led by French scientist Philippe Roumagnac, an international team of researchers used deep-sequencing methods to identify plant-associated viruses hidden in vegetation in biodiversity hotspots. The team used geospatial approaches to lay out…