Source: University of Arizona

In a case of rapid evolution, bacteria have been found to give whiteflies — crop-damaging insects of global importance — an edge over their uninfected peers, new research from the UA suggests.

In just six years, bacteria in the genus Rickettsia spread through a population of the sweet potato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci), an invasive pest of global importance. Infected insects lay more eggs, develop faster and are more likely to survive to adulthood compared to their uninfected peers. The discoveries were made by a University of Arizona-led team of scientists and are published in the April 8 issue of the journal Science

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