BEIJING, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists have published new findings on a widespread agricultural pest in the journal Cell, according to the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS).
Though most plants serve as food for insects, they protect themselves against insects with toxins. How herbivorous insects resist plant defenses was previously a mystery.
The whitefly is a widespread agricultural pest whose presence causes several serious pathogenic plant viruses. It presents an excellent model for scientists to study insects' mechanisms to overcome plant defenses.
In the study published online on Thursday, scientists from the Institute of Vegetables and Flowers under CAAS found that the whitefly has acquired the plant-derived gene BtPMaT1, which reduces plant toxins for the insect.
The findings will help scientists study new methods to control whiteflies, said Zhang Youjun, who works at the institute and lead the research. Enditem