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Impact Statement: 'Viral parasite-host interactions'

Statement Details

Brief Title
Viral parasite-host interactions

Viral parasite-host interactions

Burke, Gaelen


Geographic Scope



The interaction between parasites and insects mediated by viruses is critical to agriculture and biomedical science.

The questions that our research addresses are: 1) how parasites and microbes cause disease in insect pests, 2) how do insects interact with viruses or bacteria that are beneficial symbionts, and 3) what impact do beneficial symbionts have on the pest status of insects? These are important topics that can increase our knowledge about how to control pest insects and help beneficial insects to survive and reproduce.

Research in the last year has focused upon several beneficial viruses that are carried by parasitic wasps, which are important insects for use in biological control of agricultural pests, including the Caribbean fruit fly, which is invasive in the US. Key outputs include sequencing several new viral genome sequences from dsDNA Polydnaviruses, Nudiviruses and Entomopoxviruses and characterization of the genes involved in their replication within wasps and also pest insects.
Additionally, our program has focused upon insects known as adelgids that feed upon key forest tree species. In particular, we have examined how beneficial bacterial symbionts present in these insects can influence their tree host range and pest status, focusing upon the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid that is invasive in the Northeast America.

During the last year, I published two peer-reviewed primary research articles. Additionally, I contributed to training three undergraduate students and two graduate students in research. I also served on the doctoral committees of three additional students.

State Issue
Plant Production

Program Function(s)

  • Research
  • Instruction

Program Area(s)

  • Agriculture & Natural Resources


  • Agronomic Crops
  • Forestry Resources
  • General ANR


  • Entomology

Funding Source(s)

  • Hatch Act Funds
  • Federal Grants
  • UGA start-up funding from OVPR and CAES


CAES Collaborator(s)
  • Strand , Michael R.
Non-CAES Collaborator(s)