PORTLAND, Ore. – The Department would like to congratulate Ph.D. student Freddy Ibanez as he received first place at a poster competition during the national meeting of the Entomological Society of America in late November.
Mentored by Dr. Cecilia Tamborindeguy, Ibanez received First Place in the Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology Section. The section is for people who study insects at the cellular or molecular levels and includes topics such as biochemistry, microbiology, toxicology and molecular biology.
Ibanez’s poster titled “Vitellogenesis in potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli” looks at how the psyllids are regulating certain precursor egg yolk proteins called vitellogenins and how this process could eventually help control psyllid population growth.
In the poster, Ibanez said that they are studying these psyllids because some of these insects have emerged in the last decade as major vectors of bacterial plant pathogens worldwide. Ibanez said that they were studying the potato psyllid because the insect has been known to transmit the causal agent of zebra chip disease of potatoes called Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum. The psyllids are commonly found in the western half of the United States, Mexico, Central America, and New Zealand, he said.
During the study, Ibanez cloned two genes similar to the ones that were responsible for producing the vitellogenin proteins and determined the psyllid’s oviposition cycle. After determination, he and Tamborindeguy then analyzed the gene and protein expressions during the oviposition cycle itself. Finally, they looked at the effects of the juvenile hormone analog S-Hydroprene in females.
The results showed that there were changes in the BcVg1-like gene at different points in the cycle, but no significant changes in the BcVg6-like gene were detected. These results represented the first step towards understanding the psyllid’s reproduction process.
Ibanez said that this research will help find targets to controlling psyllid populations and also could potentially be applied to other phloem-feeding insects that were not known yet.
Tamborindeguy was very excited about the award and said that it was a very high honor for her lab.
“We are very proud of Freddy and he is a very promising student,” Tamborindeguy said. “It’s a great reward for his hard work and dedication and speaks highly of him and his professionalism.”