About this Research Topic
Phytophagous mites and thrips are important pests in many agricultural crops worldwide, representing a real threat to the agricultural production. Among the arthropods, they are phylogenetically distant, but both classes harbor species ranging from highly specialized to extremely polyphagous. They are specialized on feeding from epidermal or mesophyll tissues by means of stylets, even though their feeding modes have evolved independently. Both species are small and they often occupy similar niches in the plant’s boundary layer.
More than 6,000 species of plant feeding mites are known worldwide, forming an integral and important part of the natural ecosystem. Among them, the two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) is a cosmopolitan agricultural pest with an extensive host range feeding on cell contents of over 1,100 plant species, including more than 150 crops. Furthermore, many mites are also vectors of plant viruses responsible globally for spread virus pathogens of cereals and grasses, fruit trees, pulse crops, ornamentals and coffee plants.
Similarly, many phytophagous thrips cause extensive crop damage. For example, the Western flowers thrips and Onion thrips are found globally and are responsible for major losses to vegetable, fruit and ornamental crops through direct feeding damage. Both species are also vectors of members of the Tospoviridae including Tomato spotted wilt virus, one of the most devastating plant viruses due to severity of disease symptoms, the ubiquitous nature of its vectors and the extremely wide host range of the virus.
Compared to other herbivorous/agricultural pests, like phloem feeders and chewing herbivores, the interactions between mites and thrips with their host plants have been neglected. At the same time, crop yield losses due to the phytophagous mites and thrips are being reported frequently, which is expected to become even more severe under climate change conditions. In this context, understanding how plants defend themselves against these pests is essential for developing plant resistance or tolerance. However, most studies in the current literature are rather descriptive and restricted to visual quantification of infestations. Despite their important pest status, knowledge of the way mites and thrips interact with the plant while feeding is lacking.
We believe that a continued dialogue and sharing of ideas amongst plant scientists and entomologists/acarologists is critical to a better understanding of mites and thrips interaction with plants. Therefore, the aim of this research topic is an integrative and more in-depth understanding of the plant molecular and physiological mechanisms induced/suppressed by phytophagous mite and thrips infestation. We also highlight the current work on the development of cultivation methods or plant cultivars that allow crops to efficiently resist infestations, either through repellence, feeding disruption or simply preventing the feeding damages, which can be exploited to develop sustainable strategies for controlling the mite/thrips spread. Finally, we hope to identify common ground for mite/thrips-plant interactions such that it would be possible to develop sustainable control strategies that work against both. We welcome all types of articles, such as original research articles, methods, comprehensive reviews, mini-reviews, perspective articles and thought-provoking opinions.
Keywords: mites, thrips, plant responses, defense
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