New publications about mites transferring plant viruses

Review papers, co-authored by Anna Skoracka, about relationships between the mite Aceria tosichella, its main host: wheat, and the viruses that the mite transmits were published in Molecular Plant Pathology and Frontiers in Plant Science

The mite Aceria tosichella (wheat curl mite, WCM) in the interaction with the virus causes considerable yield losses worldwide. The challenge of effectively managing this pest-virus complex is exacerbated by the existence of divergent WCM lineages that differ in host colonization and virus transmission abilities. In these publications, there is highlighted research progress in mite ecology and virus epidemiology that affects management and development of cereal cultivars with WCM- and virus-resistance genes. The potential application of molecular methods (e.g., transcriptomics, epigenetics, and whole-genome sequencing) are proposed to understand the chemical and cellular interface between the wheat plant and WCM-viruses complexes.

The publications were prepared in cooperation with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA and Crop Research Institute, Czech Republic.

More info:

Skoracka A., Rector B. G., Hein G., L. 2018. The interface between wheat and the wheat curl mite, Aceria tosichella, the primary vector of globally important viral diseases. Frontiers in Plant Science 9 (1098), 1-8; DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01098

Singh K., Wegulo S. N., Skoracka A., Kundu J. K. Wheat streak mosaic virus: a century-old virus with rising importance worldwide. Molecular Plant Pathology 19(9): 2193-2206; DOI: 10.1111/mpp.12683

National Science Centre grant for Agnieszka

Agnieszka Majer received Etiuda grant from National Science Centre in Poland to study mechanisms of dispersal in phytophagous mites and for 3-months scholarship in the University of Lisbon. Congratulations!

Divergence in nightingales

An article, co-authored by Lechosław Kuczyński, was published in the latest issue of Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

Photo: Cezary Korkosz

Using data collected in a secondary contact zone of two hybridizing songbirds: the Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) and the Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia), we looked for associations between habitat use and bill morphology. In line with our previous results (https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12808), we found that the two nightingale species differ in habitat use in allotopic but not in syntopic sites. Moreover, birds from allotopic sites showed higher interspecific divergence in relative bill size compared to birds from syntopic sites. Our results are consistent with the view that interspecific competition in nightingales has resulted in partial habitat segregation in sympatry and that the habitat‐specific food supply has in turn very likely led to bill size divergence.

The study was done in cooperation with the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

More info:

Sottas C. , Reif J. , Kuczyński L. and Reifová R. 2018. Interspecific competition promotes habitat and morphological divergence in a secondary contact zone between two hybridizing songbirds. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 31: 914-923, DOI: 10.1111/jeb.13275

National Science Centre grant for Ala

Alicja Laska received Preludium grant from National Science Centre in Poland to study host specialization-generalization trade-offs in wheat curl mite Aceria tosichella. Congratulations!   Project’s abstract

How do birds avoid their competitors?

Our recent paper published in the Journal of Animal Ecology shows how birds avoid their sibling-species competitors.

Photo: Cezary Korkosz

We used data on abundance of two closely related passerine species, the Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) and the Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia), collected across their syntopy, allotopy and allopatry. We found that interspecific competition gave marked imprints on patterns in habitat preferences of these two species. Whereas they preferred the same habitats in allopatry, their preferences became strikingly different in allotopy within sympatry where the abundance of the Common Nightingale increased towards dry and warm sites with low coverage of pastures, while the abundance of the Thrush Nightingale showed exactly opposite trends. It seems that both species “escape” from competition to allotopic sites covered by habitats avoided by the competitor. Therefore, we argue that the interspecific competition is an important driver of species’ distribution and habitat preference is variable across space and depends on the context created by biotic interactions.

The study was done in cooperation with the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. Bird data were collected by skilled volunteers within the Common Breeding Bird Survey in Poland.

More info:

https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12808

https://journalofanimalecology.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/how-do-birds-avoid-their-sibling-species-competitors/

Prestigious Scholarship for Agnieszka!

Agnieszka Majer was awarded the dr. Jan Kulczyk scholarship for scientific record! This scholarship is dedicated to outstanding PhD students and is highly competitive. Congratulations!

Scholarship for Agnieszka!

Agnieszka Majer was awarded the Rector of Adam Mickiewicz University scholarship for the scientific record in 2016. Congratulations!

For information about the research conducted by Agnieszka please visit this site: Dispersal strategies

Publication about seasonal changes in morphology in two species of grass-feeding mites

Article written by Alicja Laska, Lechosław Kuczyński and Anna Skoracka from our team in collaboration with Brian Rector from GBRR, USDA-ARS, was published in the latest issue of Experimental and Applied Acarology.

In this study, we showed that protogyne females of two Abacarus species had a larger overall body size in winter than in either spring or summer. The results are consistent with our hypothesis that mites of these species, for which deutogyny has not been observed, undergo physiological changes such as accumulation of nutritional reserves, that enable them to withstand adverse environmental conditions.

The full article available here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10493-017-0159-1