Plant Pathology Faculty

Jane E. Polston

Jane E. Polston - UF Plant Pathology


leaf Dr. Polston conducts fundamental and applied research on the identification and management of emerging plant viruses.  Florida is a state characterized by a wide diversity of crops that are subject to an influx of new viruses and virus-like pathogens each year.  Successful management of plant viruses is dependent upon accurate and rapid diagnosis as well as relevant information on the biology of the virus.  The Polston laboratory has projects in Virus Discovery, Virus Ecology, Viral Diagnostics and Resistance to Viruses.  The Polston Laboratory identifies emerging viruses using molecular and biological approaches, documents the occurrence and importance of these viruses, develops or improves methods for their detection and discrimination, and uses the information from these as a basis to evaluate and develop new virus management strategies. In addition, the Polston Laboratory contributes to our understanding of more basic aspects of virology thought studies on the relationship between begomoviruses and their whitefly vector; molecular interactions between viruses, and generating new sources of resistance to viruses through genetic engineering.  

plant Dr. Polston’s research is primarily with viruses belonging to the family Geminiviridae, genus  Begomovirus, the largest genus of viruses with more than 300 species.  These viruses are transmitted by several species of whiteflies (formerly a single species known as Bemisia tabaci) to a wide range of vegetables, fiber and ornamental plants. plant

In addition to research, the Polston Laboratory assists IFAS personnel in extension and public service through written and oral extension presentations, conducting diagnoses of samples submitted by growers, on-site visits, and by assisting county and state extension personnel and the UF Plant Diagnostic Clinic.


Dr. Polston teaches PLP4222C  Introduction to Plant Virology and PLP6223C  Viral Pathogens of Plants each spring semester.  The objectives of the courses are to provide students with a working knowledge of plant viruses (their distinction from other molecular entities, their replication, ecology, etc…) as well experience in laboratory techniques for their detection. 

Dr. Polston supervises M.S., Ph.D. and D.P.M. students, DPM internships, and undergraduate honor’s research theses.



  • Dr. Aurora Londoño, Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Mr. Ricardo Alcala, Research Scholar
  • Ms. Heather Capobianco, Biological Scientist
  • Ms. Norsazilwati Saad, Ph.D. candidate
  • Ms. Adobe Ibe,  Research Assistant
  • Mr. Nicholas Machado, Research Assistant and Undergraduate Thesis Scholar


  • Cantu-Iris M, Harmon P, Londoño A, Polston JE. 2013.  A variant of Blueberry necrotic ring blotch virus associated with red lesions in blueberry. Arch Virol: 158: 2197–2200
  • Polston,JE, De Barro, PJ, Boykin, LM. 2013. Transmission specificities of plant viruses with the newly identified species of the Bemisia tabaci species complex. Pest Management Science (in press).
  • Polston, JE, Rosario K, and Breitbart M.  2013. Molecular surveillance of plant viruses: Identification of new and emerging viruses of tomato before they cause epidemics. Acta Hort. (in press).
  • Rosario K, Capobianco H, Ng TFF, Breitbart M, Polston JE. 2013. Metagenomic analysis of DNA and RNA viruses in whiteflies leads to the discovery and characterization of Cowpea mild mottle virus in Florida. PLoS ONE (in press).
  • Polston, JE, Capobianco, H. 2013. Transmitting plant viruses using whiteflies. 2013. J. Vis. Exp. (81), e4332, doi:10.3791/4332.
  • Nava A, Londono, MA., and Polston, JE. 2013.  Characterization and distribution of Tomato yellow margin leaf curl virus, a begomovirus from Venezuela.  Archives of.Virology 158:399-406.
  • Londoño, A., Capobianco, H., Zhang, S., and Polston, J. E. 2012. First record of Tomato chlorotic spot virus in the U.S. Tropical Plant Pathology 37:333-338
  • Ng, T. F. F., Duffy, S., Bixby, E., Vallad, G. E., Polston, J. E., and Breitbart, M. (2010) Exploring the diversity of plant viruses and their satellites using vector-enabled metagenomics on whiteflies. PloS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019050.
  • Guenoune-Gelbart, D.Sufrin-Ringwald, T. Capobianco, H., Gaba, V., Polston, J. E., and Lapidot, M. 2010. Inoculation of plants with begomoviruses by particle bombardment without cloning: Using rolling-circle amplification of total DNA from infected plants.  J. of Virological Methods 168:87-93.
  • Kloepper, JW, Saborío, F, Bustamante, E, Polston, JE, Sánchez, E, Umaña, G (2010) Fern distortion syndrome of leatherleaf fern in Costa Rica: Symptoms, incidence, and severity. Plant Dis. 94:940-951.
  • Schuster, DJ, Thompson, S, Ortega, LD, Polston, JE (2009) Laboratory evaluation of products to reduce settling of sweetpotato whitefly adults. J. Econ. Ento. 102:1482-1489.
  • Adkins S, Polston JE, Turechek WW (2009) Cucurbit leaf crumple virus identified in common bean in Florida.  Plant Disease 93:320. 
  • van der Walt, E., E.P. Rybicki, A. Varsani, J.E. Polston, R. Billharz, L. Donaldson, A.L. Monjane and D.P. Martin. 2009.  Rapid host adaptation by extensive recombination.  J. Gen. Virology 90:734-746.
  • van der Walt, E., D. P. Martin, A. Varsani, J. E.  Polston and E. P. Rybicki. 2008. Experimental observations of rapid Maize streak virus evolution reveal a strand-specific nucleotide substitution bias.  Virology Journal 5:104.
  • Polston, J. E., L. L. Hladky, F. Akad, and W. M. Wintermantel. 2008. First Report of Cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus in cucurbits in Florida. Plant Disease 92:1251.
  • Akad, F., S. Webb, T. W. Nyoike, O. E. Liburd, and Polston, J. E. 2008. Detection of Cucurbit leaf crumple virus in Florida. Plant Disease 92:648.
  • Rojas, M. R., Kon, T., Natwick, E. T., Polston, J. E., Akad, F., and Gilbertson, R. L. 2007. First report of Tomato yellow leaf curl virusassociated with tomato yellow leaf curl disease in California, USA.  Plant Disease 91:1056.
  • Akad, F., Jacobi, J. C. and Polston, J. E. 2007. Identification of Tomato yellow leaf curl virus and Tomato mottle virus in two counties in Alabama. Plant Disease 91:906.
  • Polston, J. E., Cohen, L., Sherwood, T. A., Ben-Joseph, R., and Lapidot, M. 2006. Capsicum Species: Symptomless Hosts and Reservoirs of Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV). Phytopathology 96:447-452.
  • Ling, K. S., Simmons, A. M., Hassell, R. L., Keinath, A. P., and Polston, J. E.  2006.  First Report of Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virusin South Carolina. Plant Disease 90: 379.
  • Nava, A. R., Patte, C. P., Hiebert, E. and Polston, J. E.  2006. Detection and variability of begomoviruses in tomato from the Andean states of Venezuela. Plant Disease 90:61-66.
  • Segev, L., W. M. Wintermantel, J. E. Polston, and M. Lapidot. 2004.  First Report of Tomato chlorosis virus in Israel. Plant Disease 88:1160.
  • Yang, Y., T. A. Sherwood, C. P. Patte, E. Hiebert, and J. E. Polston.  2004.  Use of Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) Rep gene sequences to engineer TYLCV resistance in tomato.  Phytopathology 94:490-496.
  • Polston, J. E. and T. A. Sherwood. 2003. Pymetrozine interferes with transmission of Tomato yellow leaf curl virus by the whiteflyBemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae). Phytoparasitica 31:490-498.
  • Urbino C., Polston, J.E., Patte, C.P., and Caruana, M-L. 2003. Characterization and genetic diversity of Potato yellow mosaic virusfrom the Caribbean. Archives of Virology 149:417-424.
  • Ramos, P.L., Guevara-González, R.G., Pruna, M.,  Guerra, O.,  Polston, J.E., Argüello-Astorga, G.R. and Rivera-Bustamante, R.F. 2003. Taino tomato mottle geminivirus pseudorecombines with PYMV but not with ToMoV, Implications for the delimitation of cis- and trans-acting replication specificity determinants. Arch. of Virology 148:1697-1712.
  • Freitas-Astua, J., Astua-Mong, G., Polston, J. E., and Hiebert, E.  2003.  A simple and reliable method for the screening of transgenic tobacco plants. Pesquisa Agropecuária Brasileira (PAB) (a journal published by EMBRAPA) 38: 893-896.