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McNair Scholars Program

Obdulia Covarrubias Perez, Ph.D.

she/her

Education: Bachelor of Science in biochemistry (May 2015)

Doctor of Philosophy in chemistry at Kansas State University

McNair Project: Investigating the Effects of Elevated Temperature on Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus Accumulation and Expression of Putative Heat-Shock Protein Genes in the Insect Vector Frankliniella occidentalis (2014)

Mentor: Dorith Rotenberg, Ph.D.

Scientists estimate that the increase in temperatures in terrestrial ecosystems will expand the geographical limits of arthropod vector-borne pathogens. Effects of elevated temperatures have been documented for arthropods that vector animal- and plant-infecting pathogens. We study the virus-vector relationship of Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) and Frankliniella occidentalis. We hypothesize that enhanced efficiency of transmission at higher temperatures is explained, in part, by increased accumulation (titer) of TSWV in the vector, which may be associated with expression of heat-shock protein (HSP). For this, we designed an experiment to quantify the effect of temperature (19°C, 24°C, and 29°C) on TSWV titer during development and transmission efficiency as adults and to determine the relationship between titer and transcript abundance of HSP. We found an increase in virus titer and transmission at 24°C and 29°C compared to 19°C, and a significant positive correlation between titer and HSP70 at 29°C and 19°C.