Degree Type

Creative Component

Semester of Graduation

Spring 2018



First Major Professor

Dr. Steven Whitham

Second Major Professor

Dr. Mark E. Westgate


Master of Science (MS)




Increasing food demand and diminishing resources require food production practices to become more productive with fewer external inputs. Agroecology uses ecological principles to inform agroecosystem management that results in ecosystem services replacing external inputs to the system and an economically and environmentally sustainable system. Viruses have historically been ignored in ecological studies. Understanding the ecological role of viruses in agroecosystems is key to managing crop production systems that utilize ecosystem services rather than rely on external inputs. The role of viruses in microorganism communities, where most research has been conducted, provides insight into the ecological role of viruses in other systems. Research in plant communities indicates viruses also have a substantial role. While it is becoming clear that most viruses are asymptomatic, some have been identified that have beneficial effects on their plant hosts. Recent advances in virus detection are rapidly expanding the field of virus ecology, with implications for agroecology as the practice develops.

Copyright Owner

Kacy Wentzell

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