Student Research Spotlight - Asifa Hameed

Posted: March 18, 2016

This is the 3rd of thirteen short news articles written by students, during the professional development class, about each other's research.

What’s that spot? Developing strategies to stop new viral soybean pathogen
By Elizabeth Rowen

Imagine you are walking through a soybean field covered with once healthy, green plants that have turned browned. The culprit? A new virus that has spread to 13 soybean producing states, which will require a sustainable approach to manage.

“Thrips are the only known carrier of soybean vein necrosis virus, but other insect species may also transmit the disease” says Asifa Hameed, a PhD student at Penn State University. She explains that her first step will to identify exactly which insect species are responsible for spreading the virus to soybean plants.

Hameed has moved to State College from Pakistan on a Fulbright Scholarship to combat these disease agents, which are related to viruses that cause agricultural losses around the world. Her previous experiences in Pakistan have made her passionate about improving pest management strategies for farmers in developing countries.

After figuring out what insect species is/are causing the spread of soybean virus, Hameed plans to study their biology and work on ways of controlling their populations.  Her goal is to develop practices that do not rely solely on pesticides, but on the insects' natural predators and resistant strains of soybeans.  

“The spread of this virus in the field affects the quality and quantity of soybean plants and decreases yield” says Hameed “Developing sustainable approaches to improve crop yield and quality is critical for reducing food shortages around the world”.