Carmen Isabel Castillo Carrillo

Leading Speaker for plant biology conference-Carmen Castillo C

Title: A population genomics approach to inferring local movement of plant pathogen vectors (Bactericera cockerelli, Hemiptera: Triozidae) among solanaceous hosts

Carmen Isabel Castillo Carrillo

National Institute of Agricultural Research, Ecuador


Carmen Isabel Castillo Carrillo, Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Entomology (WSU, USA and WUR, Netherlands, respectively). Her research runs about developing integrated pest management of agricultural pests, including vector-pathogen relationships and biological control. She develop research projects to help low-income farmers in the Ecuadorian Highlands. She have been working in the National Institute of Agricultural Research of Ecuador for two decades. She had internships and work-lab practices in Japan, Spain and New Zealand. Nowadays, She focused on molecular characterization and identification of pathogens and insect vectors of emerging plant diseases.


Herbivores often move among spatially interspersed host plants, tracking high-quality resources through space and time. This dispersal is of particular interest for vectors of plant pathogens. Existing molecular tools to track such movement have yielded important insights, but often provide insufficient genetic resolution to infer spread at finer spatiotemporal scales. Here, we explore the use of Nextera-tagmented reductively-amplified DNA (NextRAD) sequencing to infer movement of a highly-mobile winged insect, the potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli), among host plants. The psyllid vectors the pathogen that causes zebra chip disease in potato (Solanum tuberosum), but understanding and managing the spread of this pathogen is limited by uncertainty about the insect’s host plant(s) outside of the growing season. We identified 8,443 polymorphic loci among psyllids separated spatiotemporally on potato or in patches of bittersweet nightshade (S. dulcumara), a weedy plant proposed to be the source of potatocolonizing psyllids. A subset of the psyllids on potato exhibited close genetic similarity to insects on nightshade, consistent with regular movement between these two host plants. However, a second subset of potato-collected psyllids was genetically distinct from those collected on bittersweet nightshade; this suggests that a currently unrecognized host-plant species could be contributing to psyllid populations in potato. Oftentimes, dispersal of vectors of plant or animal pathogens must be tracked at a relatively fine scale in order to understand, predict, and manage disease spread. With this research we demonstrate that emerging sequencing technologies that detect SNPs across a vector’s entire genome can be used to infer such localized movement.