Rebecca is an iCASE student that is part of a collaboration between OXITEC and the John Innes Centre.
Currently Rebecca is based in the Saskia Hogenhout lab, and researching genetic control methods to control an invasive agricultural pest the whitefly (Bemisia tabaci MED and MEAM1).
Whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci) are the mosquitoes of the plant world and they are the world’s most devastating agricultural pests. These insects have a global distribution, transmit many plant viruses, and are becoming insecticide resistant; these factors equate to billions of dollars lost each year.
The whiteflies feed on many different types of plants, and therefore can affect multiple agricultural industries.
Currently, the UK is successfully combatting any infestation that may cross the borders. However, the whitefly is found in all other European countries, and it is forecasted that the insect will soon invade the UK and become a major problem.
New control measures are urgently needed because pesticide control can be environmentally damaging and can become useless when the insects develop resistance, which whiteflies are becoming.