Abstract

The variation in the insect immune system is an important regulator of insect populations and the pathogens they carry. A central component of insect immunity is melanin, whose production creates cytotoxic intermediates that help to protect against a broad spectrum of pathogens. Melanin is also used in insect cuticle where it helps to improve thermoregulation and desiccation resistance, with insects having less melanized cuticles in warmer and more humid environments. Considering that cuticle melanin and immune melanin are formed by near identical biochemical pathways, they are pleiotropically linked (that is, one or more linked genes influence multiple traits). This has lead to the cuticle-dependent immune investment (CDII) hypothesis, which states that adaptive responses in the cuticle can lead to non-adaptive changes in immunity and could lead to an increase in transmission of insect vectored pathogens in warming climates, due to a weaker defense against the pathogen. However, the impact of CDII on cuticle melanin and immunity, as well as infection prevalence and intensity, under seasonal conditions in the field is still unclear. In this project, we study a population of Asian citrus psyllids, Diaphorina citri, in the field over four seasons. Diaphorina citri vectors a Gram-negative bacteria, Candidatus Liberbacter asiaticus (CLas), that is responsible for Huanglongbing, aka citrus greening disease, which has cost the Florida citrus industry several billion dollars. We assess pathogen load of CLas by quantitative PCR, and assess levels of phenoloxidase activity in the insect hemolymph to measure insect immune function. We assess levels of cuticle melanin. Our results show a significant correlation between temperature, cuticle melanin, and immune function. However, the affect of seasonality on infection prevalence and intensity remains unclear.

THE EFFECT OF CLIMATE ON PHYSIOLOGY AND IMMUNE FUNCTION IN THE ASIAN CITRUS PSYLLID, DIAPHORINA CITRI

Thesis Completion

2016

Semester

Summer

Thesis Chair

Fedorka, Ken

Degree

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Biology

Location

Orlando (Main) Campus

Language

English

Access Status

Open Access

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