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Cambridge Global Food Security

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

A short presentation by Elin Falla (PhD Candidate, Department of Plant Science, University of Cambridge) on Plant virus spread in crops: why modelling insect behaviour is important for prediction and control, followed by a Q&A and discussion.

Coffee Break Seminars are a relaxed online learning and discussion platform for our food security community that take place every Friday during term time at 2pm, UK time. 

Please mail to register your interest in attending.


Plant viruses threaten global food security and are often transmitted by insect vectors. Non-persistently transmitted (NPT) plant viruses are transmitted almost exclusively by aphids, attached transiently to the aphid’s stylet (mouthparts). Many NPT viruses can change the behaviour of their aphid vectors by altering their host plant’s visual/olfactory cues, in a way that often optimises the virus' own transmission. Mechanistic epidemiological models of this phenomenon have historically overlooked the fact that aphid probing and feeding behaviour is key to NPT virus transmission. Our new model more accurately captures NPT virus transmission dynamics, and we use it to explore virus manipulation of plant hosts and aphid vectors, with implications for epidemic prediction and control.


Elin Falla

Elin is a PhD student in the Theoretical and Computational Epidemiology group in the Department of Plant Sciences. Her work focusses on creating mechanistic mathematical models of non-persistently transmitted virus spread through plant populations, focussing on the phenomenon of virus manipulation of its hosts and aphid vectors to further transmission. She hopes her models will be able to inform future control mechanisms for these viruses, helping to ensure future food security.

Friday, 29 March, 2024 - 14:00
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