History, current status and collaborative research projects for Bemisia tabaci
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Bemisia tabaci was described over 100 years ago and has since become one of the most important pests worldwide in subtropical and tropical agriculture as well as in greenhouse production systems. It adapts easily to new host plants and geographical regions and has now been reported from all global continents except Antarctica. In the last decade, international transport of plant material and people have contributed to geographical spread. B. tabaci has been recorded from more than 600 plant species and there may be many additional hosts not yet formally documented. Biotypes have been identified in different areas of the world suggesting that B. tabaci may be a species-complex undergoing evolutionary change. These biotypes may exhibit differences in viruses transmitted and transmission efficiency, rates of development, endosymbionts, host utilization, and physiological host damage. Excessive B. tabaci induced losses worldwide occur in field, vegetable and ornamental crop production. Losses occur from plant diseases caused by B. tabaci transmitted viruses, direct feeding damage, plant physiological disorders, and honeydew contamination and associated fungal growth. The number of B. tabaci-transmitted plant viruses has increased, and total yield losses of important food and industrial crops has occurred. Effective control at present is dependent on insecticides. However, this has been achieved with more selective chemistries, use of action thresholds, and resistance management. Host plant resistance and various cultural methods are also components of developing integrated management systems. National and international collaborative projects have made significant progress towards improved characterization of the whitefly problem, increased research, development of management methods, transfer of technology to the agricultural communities, and information exchange. These projects, as well as intensive education, research and extension activities form the basis for biologically and ecologically based approaches to management.
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