MT09052 - The IX International Symposium on Thysanoptera and Tospoviruses, August 31 to September 4 2009, Gold Coast Queensland

Thrips, which are small, slender insects with sucking mouth parts, are a common in most ecosystems. A relatively small number of the known species are common and serious pests of fruit, vegetable, field and ornamental crops worldwide. Examples include the western flower thrips, onion thrips and tomato thrips. In addition to direct damage to crops, thrips are the specific vector or carrier of viruses in the tomato spotted wilt or tospovirus group of plant viruses. Viruses within this group are among the most widespread and damaging viruses worldwide. Tomato spotted wilt virus, for example, is ranked as one of the ten most economically important viruses of plants worldwide. Thrips and tospoviruses are very difficult to effectively manage due to the wide range of hosts of both thrips and tospoviruses, the complex virus transmission process, the rapid development of insecticide resistance among pest species and the lack of resistant germplasm among many susceptible crop hosts. Managing these formidable opponents requires a strong international effort from researchers and consultants. The major forum to discuss progress and plan future efforts is the International Symposium on Thrips and Tospoviruses. The ninth of these symposia was hosted by Australia and held on the Gold Coast, Queensland from August 31 to September 4 2009. There were 112 delegates from 20 countries, providing an excellent opportunity for Australian scientists and industry representatives to interact, share issues and solutions and foster future collaborations. Highlights of the meeting included presentations on improved management of thrips and tospoviruses in vegetable and grain legume crops; the successful implementation of integrated pest management against western flower thrips in strawberries in Australia and the international program to unravel the genetic structure of thrips with the long term goal of providing more effective control through genetic manipulation. New tospovirus species were reported and the list of known vector species expanded. Presentations from the USA indicated the increasing importance of Iris yellow spot virus in both seed and bulb onion crops. Presentations at the Symposium clearly emphasised that tospoviruses and thrips are biosecurity risks for Australian industries. The greatest diversity of tospovirus species occurs in Asia as do several recently recorded vector species. Delegates strongly supported continuation of the Symposia as the primary forum for those working in this diverse area with the next meeting to be held in Brazil in 2012.