Judith K Brown
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Entomology / Insect Science - GIDP
Professor, Plant Science
Regents Professor, Plant Sciences
Research Associate Professor, Entomology
Primary Department
(520) 621-1402
Work Summary
Unravel the phylodynamics and transmission-specific determinants of emerging plant virus/fastidious bacteria-insect vector complexes, and translate new knowledge to abate pathogen spread in food systems.
Research Interest
Judith Brown, PhD, and her research interests include the molecular epidemiology of whitefly-transmitted geminiviruses (Begomoviruses, Family: Geminiviridae), the basis for virus-vector specificity and the transmission pathway, and the biotic and genetic variation between populations of the whitefly vector, B. tabaci, that influence the molecular epidemiology and evolution of begomoviruses. Keywords: Plant viral genomics, emergent virus phylodynamics, functional genomics of insect-pathogen interactions


Rosell, R. C., Lichty, J. E., & Brown, J. K. (1995). Ultrastructure of the mouthparts of adult sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci Gennadius (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). International Journal of Insect Morphology and Embryology, 24(3), 297-306.


The fine structure of the mouthparts of the whitefly, Bemisia tabaci Gennadius (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae), was examined by scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Adult whitefly mouthparts are similar to those of other homopterans, especially aphids, being composed of the labrum, the labium, and the stylets. The stylet bundle is the feeding organ of the whitefly and is composed of 2 mandibular stylets and 2 maxillary stylets. Mandibular stylets, which are located on the outer aspect of the stylet bundle, each contain 2 dendrites. The tips of the mandibular stylets are curved inward, and there are barb-like ridges on the lateral aspects, which probably function in piercing and cutting plant tissues and in anchoring the stylets in the tissues. The maxillary stylets are not innervated and are interlocked to form 2 separate compartments, the food canal and salivary canal. At the distal end of the interlocked maxillary stylets, there is a small depression, which may allow for mixing of the salivary canal and food canal components. Movement of the B. tabaci stylets during feeding is discussed in comparison with other homopterans. © 1995.

Brown, J. K. (2014). Revisiting the classification of curtoviruses based on genome-wide pairwise identity.. Archives of Virology, 159, 1873-1882.

Varsani, A., Martin, D.P., Navas-Castillo, J., Moriones, E., Hernández-Zepeda, C., Idris, A.M., Murilo, F., Zerbini, F.M., and Brown, J.K. 2014. Revisiting the classification of curtoviruses based on genome-wide pairwise identity. Arch. Virol. 159: 1873-1882.

Brown, J. K., Bird, J., Frohlich, D. R., Rosell, R. C., Bedford, I. D., & Markham, P. G. (1996). The relevance of variability within the Bemisia tabaci species complex to epidemics caused by subgroup III geminiviruses. Bemisia: 1995. Taxonomy, biology, damage, control and management, 77-89.


There are measurable differences between whitefly populations from different biogeographic backgrounds. These differences influence the capacity of B. tabaci (Hemiptera: Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) populations to vector WFT geminiviruses and are seen in whitefly host range phenotypes and host preferences that affect the ability and efficiency of whitefly mediated geminivirus transmission to and from certain hosts. Also suggestive of differences between populations are variable levels of fecundity, and that females do not mate with males from (putatively) genetically distinct populations.

Tuttle, J. R., Idris, A. M., Brown, J. K., Haigler, C. H., & Robertson, D. (2008). Geminivirus-mediated gene silencing from cotton leaf crumple virus is enhanced by low temperature in cotton. Plant Physiology, 148(1), 41-50.

PMID: 18621976;PMCID: PMC2528111;Abstract:

A silencing vector for cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) was developed from the geminivirus Cotton leaf crumple virus (CLCrV). The CLCrV coat protein gene was replaced by up to 500 bp of DNA homologous to one of two endogenous genes, the magnesium chelatase subunit I gene (ChlI) or the phytoene desaturase gene (PDS). Cotyledons of cotton cultivar 'Deltapine 5415' bombarded with the modified viral vectors manifested chlorosis due to silencing of either ChlI or PDS in approximately 70% of inoculated plants after 2 to 3 weeks. Use of the green fluorescence protein gene showed that replication of viral DNA was restricted to vascular tissue and that the viral vector could transmit to leaves, roots, and the ovule integument from which fibers originate. Temperature had profound effects on vector DNA accumulation and the spread of endogenous gene silencing. Consistent with reports that silencing against viruses increases at higher temperatures, plants grown at a 30°C/26°C day/night cycle had a greater than 10-fold reduction in viral DNA accumulation compared to plants grown at 22°C/18°C. However, endogenous gene silencing decreased at 30°C/26°C. There was an approximately 7 d delay in the onset of gene silencing at 22°C/18°C, but silencing was extensive and persisted throughout the life of the plant. The extent of silencing in new growth could be increased or decreased by changing temperature regimes at various times following the onset of silencing. Our experiments establish the use of the CLCrV silencing vector to study gene function in cotton and show that temperature can have a major impact on the extent of geminivirus-induced gene silencing. © 2008 American Society of Plant Biologists.

Torres-Pacheco, I., Garzón-Tiznado, J. A., Brown, J. K., Becerra-Flora, A., & Rivera-Bustamante, R. F. (1996). Detection and distribution of geminiviruses in Mexico and the southern United States. Phytopathology, 86(11), 1186-1192.


Plant samples from important horticultural areas in Mexico and the southern United States were collected during several seasons and analyzed for the presence of geminiviruses by a combination of agarose gel electrophoresis, molecular hybridization, and polymerase chain reaction amplification techniques. A general detection strategy confirmed the presence of geminiviruses in all horticultural areas of Mexico in pepper, tomato, tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa), cucurbits, and tobacco. Specific detection procedures showed that pepper huasteco virus is widely distributed in Mexico; it was found in pepper and tomato samples in both coastal areas, as well as in central Mexico. It was also found in pepper samples from the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas. Pepper jalapeno virus (PJV) and chino del tomate virus (CdTV) showed a more restricted distribution, although, in all cases, the viruses appeared to become more widely distributed over time. Partial DNA sequences of PJV and CdTV were also obtained. Comparative sequence analysis showed that PJV and the previously described Texas pepper geminivirus are probably strains of the same virus. The name pepper jalapeno virus is, thus, withdrawn to avoid further confusion. Similarly, CdTV showed a very high level of sequence identity with the recently described tomato leaf crumple virus (TLCrV), also suggesting that they both are strains of the same virus.