Insecticides promote viral outbreaks by altering herbivore competition

Huipeng Pan, Evan L. Preisser, Dong Chu, Shaoli Wang, Qingjun Wu, Yves Carrière, Xuguo Zhou, Youjun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


While the management of biological invasions is often characterized by a series of single-species decisions, invasive species exist within larger food webs. These biotic interactions can alter the impact of control/eradication programs and may cause suppression efforts to inadvertently facilitate invasion spread and impact. We document the rapid replacement of the invasive Bemisia Middle East-Asia Minor I (MEAM1) cryptic biotype by the cryptic Mediterranean (MED) biotype throughout China and demonstrate that MED is more tolerant of insecticides and a better vector of tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) than MEAM1. While MEAM1 usually excludes MED under natural conditions, insecticide application reverses the MEAM1-MED competitive hierarchy and allows MED to exclude MEAM1. The insecticide-mediated success of MED has led to TYLCV outbreaks throughout China. Our work strongly supports the hypothesis that insecticide use in China reverses the MEAM1-MED competitive hierarchy and allows MED to displace MEAM1 in managed landscapes. By promoting the dominance of a Bemisia species that is a competent viral vector, insecticides thus increase the spread and impact of TYLCV in heterogeneous agroecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1585-1595
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Agriculture
  • Bemisia tabaci
  • Biological invasions
  • Competitive displacement
  • Insecticides
  • Mediterranean (MED)
  • Middle East-Asia Minor I (MEAM1)
  • Plant virus
  • Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


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