Dr. Brian Bahder
Insect Vector Ecology
Dr. Bahder specializes in insect vector ecology, specifically in vector discovery of new and emerging pathogens that cause economic loss in agricultural and ornamental cropping systems as well as understanding the evolutionary relationships and molecular mechanisms that determine the ability of species to transmit pathogens. His current research interests include the epidemiology of phytoplasmas infecting palms as well as other common tropical ornamental plants and their associated diseases and insect pests and developing management strategies to reduce economic losses.
Research: Insect Vector Ecology
My research interests involve the role various insects play in pathogen transmission in plants from the population level to the molecular level and how the insect biology relates to disease epidemiology. One of the main focus areas of my research program is better understanding the epidemiology of Lethal Yellowing (LY) and Texas Phoenix Palm Decline (TPPD) phytoplasmas in palm trees of south Florida and the Caribbean basin. This includes identifying the insect vectors of these diseases, alternate host plants of the phytoplasmas, general vector biology and life history, and ultimately developing cost-effective and environmentally responsible management strategies. My research program also investigates pest and vector insect species in ornamental plants in general along with corresponding diseases. I am interested in developing digital PCR assays (dPCR) for increased sensitivity when looking for pathogens in host and vector tissue to reduce the cost and time of vector discovery but also develop more cost and time efficient sampling and survey strategies for researchers as well as private industry. Long-term research initiatives involve classifying the receptors involved in vector-pathogen specificity in order to reduce vector ability to transmit a given pathogen. Another area of interest is surveying hemipteran and plant pathogen diversity (Auchenorrhyncha and Sternorrhyncha) in south Florida as well as Latin America to help in identifying invasive species and new diseases to the area.
Extension: Insect Vector Ecology
My extension program is based on both basic and applied research with the goal of transitioning monitoring and management programs from the academic realm into the hands of homeowners, master gardeners, as well as the nursery industry. When a disease or pest is identified, my lab will develop cost-effective programs to manage the problem or provide guidance and recommendation based on currently available and established management programs. We will subsequently train the public to utilize the technologies and practices that we have optimized under a research setting so that they can implement the programs themselves to their benefit. Workshops and short courses are an important element in extension work and provide valuable training and skills to the industry. My lab will also offer testing services for both the detection of and identification of phytoplasmas in diseased palms as well as known pathogens of other ornamental plants.
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Lab Member Information
- Ericka Helmick, Biological Scientist II email@example.com