Archive for the ‘Viruses’ Category

New ToBRFV-resistant varieties presented for Mexico

At a recent celebratory conference in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Enza Zaden presented the trial data accompanied by seven new commercial HR ToBRFV varieties specifically adapted for Mexican growing conditions. The varieties include two indeterminate Roma types, two indeterminate beef types, and three grape types.

“It’s very exciting news for Mexican growers, seed dealers, and industry stakeholders. After two years of extensive trialing in Mexico and other countries, we have HR ToBRFV varieties available now for shadehouses, greenhouses, and high-tech greenhouses across Mexico,” said Oscar Lara, Senior Tomato Product Specialist Enza Zaden.

High Resistance is an important part of an ongoing and integrated fight against ToBRFV. Enza Zaden discovered the HR ToBRFV gene in 2020 and launched HR varieties for Mexico just two years later.

Oscar Lara, Senior Tomato Product Specialist, Enza Zaden 

“Data collection from our breeding station in Culiacan and from allied growers across the country plays a key role in our ongoing efforts to control the rugose for our customers here and all over the world,” said Antonio de Sainz, Commercial Director for Mexico, Enza Zaden.

For more information:
Enza Zaden
Juan Labastida
Marketing Specialist
+ 52 667 303 67 69
Email: j.labastida@enzazaden.com.mx

Publication date: Fri 24 Jun 2022

Read Full Post »

IITA Unveils New Varieties to Boost Cassava Production

May 31, 2022 12:23 am

Gilbert Ekugbe

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has unveiled new cassava varieties developed by the NextGen project to boost cassava production in the country. 

In a statement, IITA during a farmers’ field day and product launch excited farmers in Kogi and Benue States as they expressed awe at the large sizes and number of roots produced by the new cassava varieties.

The farmers spoke about the difference between the new varieties and the old ones, saying Baba 70 and Game Changer yielded more than local varieties, which they were used to. Some took a few stems to plant in their fields, saying they would love to adopt the new varieties.

According to the breeders, while Game Changer can produce 32 tonnes per hectare, Baba 70 can produce 38 tonnes per hectare. It was also proven that the new cultivars were drought-tolerant and resistant to the virus diseases of cassava.

Speaking at the event, a Molecular Geneticist and Plant Breeder with IITA, Dr. Ismail Rabbi, stated that years of consumer preference studies were conducted before releasing the varieties.

Rabbi said: “In addition to high yield and stress tolerance, we found that these varieties are suitable for several agro-ecologies. Farmers, processors and consumers love these varieties because they were high-yielding, stress-tolerant, and disease-resistant and had the right food properties.”

The Head of IITA GoSeed, Dr. Mercy Diebiru-Ojo, said that the varieties would help to raise the livelihoods of farmers. “I am confident that farmers who adopt these varieties will make more profit and improve their livelihoods. These varieties are also a huge contribution to food security,” she added.

Speaking on the field, the Product Manager for Crop Variety Development, IITA, Dr. Vishnuardhan Banda, expressed joy that the farmers and processors were happy with the new varieties and eager to plant them on their farms. 

Banda, however, urged them to always send feedback on the performance of the varieties to the researchers.

His words: “We want you to work with us. You are very important in the process of crop improvement. You are the farmers and the first consumers. We urge you to always tell us how these varieties are performing on your various farms. You have seen that these are very good varieties but we know that in years to come, you would need something new. Just keep giving us feedback about farmers’ choices and complaints, and we the breeders will be working with that information to give you new and better products.”

The former Nigerian Ambassador to Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, Ambassador Jaiyeola Lewu, was present at the event, commended the NextGen project and the IITA and NRCRI scientists.

Lewu described the varieties as game changers in the agricultural sector, saying that farmers would benefit immensely from them.

In his response, the Advocacy Outreach and Promotions Lead of the IITA Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II) project, Dr. Godwin Atser, who spoke on behalf of the Project Manager, Prof. Lateef Sanni, stated that the BASICS-II project would use its seed system model (BASICS model) to ensure that farmers get access to new and improved varieties.

Read Full Post »


News reporting

‘Nose Knows Scouting’ uses trained dogs to sniff out Potato Virus Y

A North Dakota potato breeder brings in a speaker from Wyoming who has trained a dog to detect potato virus diseases using their nose.

A woman takes a black Labrador dog to smell bags of potato tubers on a driveway, as researchers look on.
Andrea Parish of Dayton, Wyoming, sniffs bags of potato seed tubers for disease in the North Dakota State University potato breeding program, as NDSU potato breeder Asunta “Susie” Thompson and technician Kelly Peppel look on. Photo taken May 17, 2022, at Fargo, North Dakota.

By Mikkel Pates

May 23, 2022 05:30 AM


 We are part of The Trust Project.

FARGO, N.D. — Good news: the newest high-tech tool for diagnosing crop disease is also man’s best friend — a friendly dog….

Read Full Post »

BCPC’s GM/Biotech Crops Report – April 2022

5th April 2022

  • GM/Biotech Crops Monthly Reports (BELOW) form part of BCPC’s free three-tier Biotech Crops Info service.
  • This service also includes a weekly round-up of news from around the globe – see BCPC Newslink GM Crops section.
  • Plus – Free access database on over 300 GM/biotech products covering 23 crops in the global market visit BCPC’s GM/Biotech Crops Manual – Register here for free access.
  • Already registered? Click here

GM/Biotech Crops Monthly Report April 2022

Lettuce in space

Astronauts that spend a long time in space can suffer from a loss of bone density due to the reduced gravity but now a team at the University of California have developed a genetically-modified lettuce that produces a drug that can offset this loss and that can be grown in space to provide the astronauts with fresh green leaves to eat. Pic: Mel Edwards. Full Story.

Antibiotics on crops

While Europe bans neonicotinoids to ensure no harmful effects to bees, America is spraying apple and pear orchards with streptomycin to control the bacterial disease fire blight. A study has shown that bees exposed to the streptomycin are less active and collect less pollen than those that are not exposed to the antibiotic.
Full Story.

An elixir of youth

Some people try blood transfusions from young people to recapture that youthful zest for life and now a study has produced some evidence supporting that hope. Young mice blood contains packets of chemicals (extracellular vesicles) budded off from dividing cells that, when injected in to old mice, restores grip strength, stamina and motor coordination. Sadly the effect wears off after a couple of months but another injection can restore it.
Full story

BT maize resistant to stem borer attack

An evaluation of BT maize in Uganda has confirmed a reduction of leaf damage and stem attack that has led to yield increases of 30 – 80%.
Full Story.

Salt-tolerant cotton

A relative of Arabidopsis has yielded a trait that can be used to confer salt tolerance to cotton which could allow the crop to be grown on more land but could also boost yields in areas where it is already grown.
Full Story

Herbicide-tolerant tomatoes

Scientists in Korea have used gene editing to alter three enzymes in tomatoes. The benefits of changes to PDS and EPSPS enzymes are unclear but the changes to the ALS enzyme can confer tolerance of ALS herbicides similar to the naturally-occurring tolerance recently introduced in sugar beet.
Full Story

Potato genome decoded

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute and the Ludwig Maximillian University have decoded the entire genome of potatoes and this knowledge is to be used to develop improved varieties for future cropping. The following link takes you to the German text which can be translated by computer.
Full Story

Gene expression imbalance boosts wheat yields

Researchers at Kansas University have found that varying the expression of various genes in wheat can affect the grain size and final yields. This knowledge can possibly be used to optimise yields of new varieties.
Full Story

Control of Fall Army Worm

Pilot studies in Brazil have shown that release of Oxitec’s ‘Friendly’ male army worms can reduce the populations of army worms due to the males carrying a male only trait and that this reduction will help to protect the Bt maize that is grown there from resistance developing in the wild population. It is very target specific and has no effect on other species such as bees.
Full Story

USDA approved gene-edited cattle

The USDA has decided that gene-edited beef cattle that have shorter hair than unedited cattle pose no safety concerns and can be marketed without waiting for a specific approval:
Full Story

Europe approves transgenic maize with stacked traits

The EFSA finds no safety concerns in GM maize with stacked traits for insect resistance and tolerance of glyphosate and glufosinate. This permits the import of these crops but it still does not allow them to be grown in Europe.
Full Story

Stripe rust resistance in wheat

An international team has identified the specific gene that confers resistance to stripe rust in the African bread wheat variety ‘Kariega’ and now this trait can be transferred to other varieties.
Full Story

Gene-silencing for weed control

Colorado University has developed a spray that contains antisense oligonucleotides that penetrate the leaves of the weed Palmer amaranth and silence essential genes in the weed. Palmer amaranth has developed resistance to a number of herbicides but this spray is specific to this weed and has no effect on the crop or non-target organisms.
Full Story

Nutritional Impact of regenerative farming

The University of Washington has compared crops grown on land under regenerative farming management with crops grown on adjacent conventionally farmed land and has shown that the regenerative farming crops have higher levels of vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals. They don’t give any comparison of the yields achieved though and perhaps the higher levels of vitamins etc are simply due to them being distributed through lower yielding crops.
Full Story

Transgenic sugarcane

Sugarcane with overexpressed sucrose-phosphate synthase has been trialled in Indonesia has shown increased tiller number, height and yield than conventional varieties without affecting bacterial diversity or gene horizontal flow in the soil.
Full Story

Potato virus Y resistance

Researchers in Iran have used gene-silencing techniques to develop potatoes that exhibit resistance to potato Y virus.
Full Story

GM barley trials in the UK

Fertiliser prices have gone through the roof and NIAB in conjunction with Cambridge University at the Crop Science Centre are to trial gene modified and gene edited lines of barley to see if they can improve the nitrogen and phosphorus uptake of the plants and make them less reliant on applied fertilisers. If successful on barley, it could be rolled out to other crops.
Full Story

Palm oil replacement

Palm oil is widely used in many products but the proliferation of palm plantations is responsible for a lot of habitat loss throughout the world. Now a team at Nanyang technological University in Singapore have developed a technique for producing the oil from common microalgae.
Full Story

Corn borer resistant maize

Zhejiang University in China has developed a genetically modified maize that has insect resistant traits and a 5 year study has shown it can give up to 96% reduction in corn borer damage and a 6 – 10% yield increase over conventional varieties.
Full Story


The latest approvals of biotech crops to report this month:

• GMB151 – soybean tolerant of isoxaflutole herbicide approved for food use in Canada and for environmental use in America


Already Registered? Click here to access

Read Full Post »

MARCH 2, 2022

Can amino acid also be developed as pesticide against plant viruses?

by Higher Education Press

Can amino acid also be developed as pesticide against plant viruses?
Credit: Hongjian Song, Qingmin Wang

Plant viruses create a great variety of harm. Virus disease pandemics and epidemics are estimated to have a global economic impact in the tens of billions of dollars. At present, there are not many effective and satisfactory varieties of anti-plant virus agents in practical use, and especially few therapeutic agents.


In the face of the harm viruses cause to agricultural production, it is necessary to develop environmentally friendly anti-plant virus drugs. It is increasingly important, and a growing research focus, to find drug candidates from natural products. Natural products possess many of the properties that can make them useful drug candidates, including structural diversity, specificity and novel modes of action. However, natural products also have some disadvantages, such as limited compound availability, high structural complexity and poor drug-likeness. Therefore, pesticide creation based on natural products has become an important direction of green pesticide creation.

Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids and the biosynthetic precursor of many alkaloids. Prof. Qingmin Wang and Dr. Hongjian Song from Nankai University previously found that tryptophan, the biosynthesis precursor of Peganum harmala alkaloids, and its derivatives have anti-TMV activity both in vitro and in vivo. Further exploration of this led to the identification of NK0238 as a highly effective agent for the prevention and control of diseases caused by plant viruses, but the existing routes are unsuitable for its large-scale synthesis.

They optimized a route for two-step synthesis of this virucide candidate. The optimized route provides a solid foundation for its large-scale synthesis and subsequent efficacy and toxicity studies. Field experiment results showed that it had good effect on multiple plant viruses. The oral toxicity in rats was mild, and it had no effect on the safety of birds, fish or bees. The study entitled “Route development, antiviral studies, field evaluation and toxicity of an antiviral plant protectant NK0238” is published on the Journal of Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering in 2022.

In this study, a two-step synthetic route for the antiviral plant protectant, NK0238, was developed. By this route, NK0238 can be obtained in 94% yield and nearly 97% HPLC purity. Compared with the previously reported routes, this route has the advantages of high atom economy, high yield and operational simplicity. In addition, it can be used for the preparation of more than 40 g of NK0238 in a single batch. After completing the process optimization, an in-depth study of antiviral activity in greenhouse and field experiments and toxicity tests were conducted. NK0238 exhibited a broad antiviral spectrum, in field experiments, the activities of NK0238 against TMV, pepper virus, panax notoginseng virus Y, gladiolus mosaic virus, banana bunchy top virus were equal to or higher than amino-oligosaccharins and moroxydine hydrochloride-copper acetate. The results of ecotoxicological testing showed that the compound was not harmful to birds, fish, bees and silkworms, its excellent activity and safety make NK0238 a promising drug candidate for further development.

Explore further

Novel synthetic process for the core structure of the fungal antiviral agent neoechinulin B and its derivatives

More information: Wentao Xu et al, Route Development, Antiviral Studies, Field Evaluation And Toxicity Of An Antiviral Plant Protectant Nk0238, Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering (2021). DOI: 10.15302/J-FASE-2021390

Provided by Higher Education Press

Read Full Post »

new soil viruses

Scientists discover new soil viruses

by Sarah Wong, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Soil is the unsung hero of our lives. It provides nourishment to crops to provide us with food, offers drainage for rainwater into aquifers, and is a habitat for a variety of organisms. On the microscopic level, soil thrives with life, harboring microbes, such as fungi and bacteria that work cooperatively with plants. Despite being such an important part of our lives, not much is known about exactly what exists just below the Earth’s surface.

In new research from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), scientists used bioinformatics and deep sequencing to identify soil viruses and better understand their roles in the Earth. Most of these viruses infect bacteria, and are thus thought to play an important part in maintaining microbial populations.

“Viruses are abundant in nature,” said Janet Jansson, chief scientist for biology and PNNL Laboratory Fellow. “Because there are so many of them in every soil sample, identifying different viruses becomes a challenge.”

Jansson worked with Computational Scientist Ruonan Wu and Earth Scientist and Microbiome Science Team Leader Kirsten Hofmockel in the Biological Sciences Division at PNNL to meet this challenge.

Along with collaborators from Washington State University; Oregon Heath & Science University; Iowa State University; and EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a Department of Energy Office of Science user facility at PNNL; the PNNL scientists collected soil samples from grasslands in Washington, Iowa, and Kansas and began a deep dive into the soil composition. They leveraged the massive DNA sequencing abilities of the Joint Genome Institute, computing power of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, and multi-omics expertise from EMSL to unearth previously unknown soil viruses. Their results were published in mBio and Communications Biology.

Different viruses for different climates

The scientists chose Washington, Iowa, and Kansas for their soil samples because each location gets a different amount of rainfall. Eastern Washington is much drier compared to Iowa, while Kansas sits in the crossroads between the two in terms of soil moisture.

“We chose to take samples from places with different amounts of soil moisture to see if this made a difference in the types and amounts of viruses there,” said Wu. “Wetter soil contains more bacteria, and many soil viruses infect bacteria.”

The scientists noticed that certain viruses are much more abundant in dry soil than wet soil.

“In drier climates, there tend to be fewer, but more diverse, microbes in the soil,” said Wu. “The relative scarcity of bacterial hosts means that it’s in the virus‘s best interest to keep the host alive.”

The researchers also discovered that in drier soil, viruses were more likely to contain special genes that they could potentially transfer to their bacterial hosts.

“These genes could potentially give their bacterial hosts ‘superpowers'” said Jansson. “These virus genes could be passed to their bacterial hosts to help them survive in dry soils.”

Though more research is necessary to better understand the role of these special viral genes, the possibility that they could be useful to bacteria living in the soil is exciting. These genes could be useful to bacteria by increasing their ability to recycle carbon and thus increase soil health.

Explore further

Distribution of soil bacterial community in surface and deep layers reported along elevational gradient

More information: Ruonan Wu et al, DNA Viral Diversity, Abundance, and Functional Potential Vary across Grassland Soils with a Range of Historical Moisture Regimes, mBio (2021). DOI: 10.1128/mBio.02595-21

Ruonan Wu et al, Moisture modulates soil reservoirs of active DNA and RNA viruses, Communications Biology (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-021-02514-2

Journal information: Communications Biology  mBio 

Provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory 

Read Full Post »

JANUARY 26, 2022

Exploring the surprising breadth of plant viruses that hitchhike on pollen

by University of Pittsburgh

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

We rely on pollinators like honeybees for all sorts of different crops.But that same flexibility could put plants at risk of disease, according to new Pitt research.


In the first study totake a broad look at virus hitchhikers on pollen grains, Pitt biologists show that a variety of viruses travel on pollen—especially in areas close to agriculture and human development where honeybees dominate.

“Our understanding of viruses on pollen at large was nonexistent before this study,” said Department of Biological Sciences Distinguished Professor Tia-Lynn Ashmanin the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences. “Most of what we know about plant viruses comes from agricultural species that are obviously sick. We just didn’t really have any idea what was out there.”

Since most prior research focused on just a small handful of viruses,the team didn’t know what to expect on their search, or even whether to expect much at all.

“That was one of our one of our questions,” Ashman said. “Do we not know much about these viruses because there aren’t many out there, or we just don’t know how to look at them?”

By sequencing the genetic material present on the pollen grains of 24 plant species across the U.S., the group found signs of many of the plant viruses already shown to travel on pollen—along with six new species, three new variants of known species and the incomplete traces of more than 200 more that have never before been identified.

The team, including Pitt biologist James Pipas, former Ph.D. student Andrea Fetters and Ph.D. student Amber Stanley, published their researchin the journal Nature Communications Jan. 26. For viruses, the tiny, spiky vehicles for plant genetic material we know as pollen represents a convenient way to travel from host to host. It’s also a direct path to a plant’s reproductive organs, the one part of a plant where cells aren’t covered by a hard outer surface. In that way, it’s similar to how viruses invade our own bodies through our less-protected noses and mouths.

Ashman offered another analogy: “Pollinators are essentially the go-betweens for plant sex—since plants can’t get up and move to another plant, they rely on an intermediate,” she said. “So you can relate this to a sexually transmitted disease.”

Driving that point home, the researchers found that pollen produced by plants with more flowers that help them attract pollinators also harbored more kinds of viruses. The team also saw a wider variety of pollen-borne viruses in areas close to human habitation and agriculture. Ashman suspects one reason for this pattern may be honeybees: Since they visit a wide variety of flowers over a big area, they meet all the criteria to spread viruses. Native pollinators are far more specialized.

It’s a lesson not just for how we perform agriculture, but also forbackyard beekeepers.

“Honeybees have superspreader potential,” Ashman said. “People think that doingbeekeeping at home is helping pollinators.But when we do an activity like bringing honeybees into the city, we’re bringing everything that comes with them.”

Including, perhaps, all the viruses they pick upin their travels.As for what those viruses are doing—whether they’re harming pollinators andplants or paradoxically helping them—it’ll be up to future studies to determine. Regardless, the workshows yet another way humans can throw a wrench in the gears when we engineerecosystems for our own benefit.

“It’s a cautionary story about how whenwe alter our environment, we’re potentially changing those viral-host interactions,” Ashman said. “All of these things are interconnected.”

Explore further

Pollinators contribute to flowering plant diversity

More information: Andrea M. Fetters et al, The pollen virome of wild plants and its association with variation in floral traits and land use, Nature Communications (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-28143-9

Journal information: Nature Communications 

Provided by University of Pittsburgh 

Read Full Post »

Viral proteins join forces to lower plants’ defense ‘shields’

Date: January 25, 2022 Source: Washington State UniversitySummary: New research into how viral proteins interact and can be disabled holds promise to help plants defend themselves against viruses — and ultimately prevent crop losses. The study found that viral proteins interact with each other to help a virus hijack its host plant and complete its life cycle. When some of these viral proteins were disabled, the researchers found that the virus could not move from cell to cell.Share:


New research, led by Washington State University scientists, into how viral proteins interact and can be disabled holds promise to help plants defend themselves against viruses — and ultimately prevent crop losses.

The study published in Frontiers in Plant Science found that viral proteins interact with each other to help a virus hijack its host plant and complete its life cycle. When some of these viral proteins were disabled, the researchers found that the virus could not move from cell to cell. These proteins are also doing double duty, inducing disease as well.

“These silencing suppressor proteins are interacting with each other in a seamless, highly coordinated lockstep dance to help the virus in overcome host defense,” said WSU virologist Hanu Pappu, the senior author on the paper.

Insights into the dynamics of these interactions could provide clues for blocking them, Pappu added.

“We are using genome editing approaches to do exactly that,” he said. “The more we understand about how these viruses bring down defensive ‘shields’ and cause disease, the better chance we have of saving plants from viral invaders.”

A silent, behind-the-scenes arms race between plants and the viruses that prey on them has been going on for millions of years. Viral diseases cost more than a billion dollars in losses annually to food, feed, and fiber crops worldwide, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Plants have developed a sophisticated defense system to protect themselves from infection, involving highly choregraphed cellular events that are triggered by viral attack, Pappu said. Plants use a molecular defense called RNA interference, RNAi for short, that chops incoming viral nucleic acid, preventing the virus from commandeering host cells. Viruses in turn evolved, producing molecules called ‘silencing suppressor proteins’ that can disable their hosts’ RNAi defenses.

“Star Trek’s Federation-versus-Klingons is playing out in real life,” said Pappu. “When the plant senses an attack by a virus, its ‘shields’ go up. Viruses are finding ways to lower the shields or slip through them and eventually take over the plant.”

Pappu, the Chuey Endowed Chair and Samuel H. Smith Distinguished Professor in WSU’s Department of Plant Pathology, studies viral proteins that suppress or evade plant defenses, ultimately devising ways to help plants repel pathogens. He and his team have been studying a group of pathogens called geminiviruses — among the most crop-destructive viruses in many parts of the world.

Lead author Ying Zhai, a WSU research associate, set out to identify which viral proteins are suppressing defenses and understand how these molecules interact with other viral proteins upon infection. Working with Anirban Roy and his team at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, she examined a specific, damaging geminivirus, the Croton yellow vein mosaic virus. Ying and Roy learned where the viral silencing suppressor is located within cells, how it interacts with cells and brings on symptoms, and how it helps the virus move from cell to cell.

Using a technique called confocal microscopy, which focuses a tight beam of light on a small target area, co-author Dan Mullendore at WSU’s Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center studied individual viral proteins and where they localize inside host cells.

While most viruses make one protein with a specific function to defeat their host, Zhai and Roy found that this geminivirus contained not just one but four different proteins that take part in bringing down plant defenses. Using highly sensitive molecular and microscopic methods, they found that these viral proteins were interacting to help the virus. When some were disabled, the virus could not spread in the plant.

Other co-authors on the study include Hao Peng at the WSU Department of Plant Pathology; and Gurpreet Kaur, Bikash Mandal, and Sunil Kumar Mukherjee of the Advanced Center for Plant Virology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi.

The project was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch Act funding.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Washington State UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Ying Zhai, Anirban Roy, Hao Peng, Daniel L. Mullendore, Gurpreet Kaur, Bikash Mandal, Sunil Kumar Mukherjee, Hanu R. Pappu. Identification and Functional Analysis of Four RNA Silencing Suppressors in Begomovirus Croton Yellow Vein Mosaic VirusFrontiers in Plant Science, 2022; 12 DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2021.768800

Cite This Page:

Washington State University. “Viral proteins join forces to lower plants’ defense ‘shields’.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/01/220125112537.htm>.

Read Full Post »

Destructive onion virus evolving, spreading

  • Washington State University
Closeup of a large pile of Walla Walla sweet onions.
Getty Images

Iris yellow spot virus is continuing to pose a danger to onion crops by evolving and spreading, according to research from Washington State University virologists.

Nearly 20 years ago, as a newly hired virologist at Pullman, Hanu Pappu examined wilting onion plants collected from a field in Grant County, Washington, by fellow WSU scientists Gary Pelter and Lindsey du Toit. Pappu set out to find the cause for the plants’ sickly appearance.

Running a molecular test, followed by genetic sequencing, he found that Iris yellow spot virus, which had not been previously reported in Washington was infecting and killing the onions.

“Within a matter of three years, all the major onion-growing counties in the state reported widespread occurrence of the disease, causing as much as 80% losses,” Pappu said. “Seed crops are especially vulnerable.”

Named for its original host plant, Iris yellow spot has caused significant damage to onion crops around the world. Infection weakens the seed-bearing stems, causing them to lodge, or fall over, effectively destroying the next generation of seeds. The virus also reduces photosynthetic activity, ultimately shrinking the onion bulb.

Hanu Pappu

Pappu, the Chuey Endowed Chair and Samuel H. Smith Professor in WSU’s Department of Plant Pathology, has been studying and tracking Iris yellow spot virus for most of his professional career.

“The virus is spread by thrips, a serious onion insect pest,” Pappu said. “When feeding, thrips move the pathogen from infected plants to healthy ones, making virus control very challenging.”

Though the virus is known to infect onion crops since the beginning of 1990s in southern Idaho and Oregon, scientists were baffled by the sudden resurgence and rapid spread of the virus in the early 2000s.

“What caused this sudden shift in the virus dynamics that made this virus so destructive, so suddenly?” Pappu said. “It’s still an unsolved puzzle.”

Pappu and his research colleagues set out to understand the diversity of the virus, as well as its evolution and possible reasons for its global spread, using a rapid molecular test, a sort of genetic fingerprinting. They learned that Iris yellow spot exists as two distinct strains due to differences in one of its genes. Their test can quickly identify which of the strains is involved in a given outbreak.

Afsha Tabassum, a WSU doctoral student, analyzed more than 200 genetic sequences reported globally and found that that the virus is evolving through genetic recombination and mutations. While one strain is predominant in U.S. onion crops, a different strain seems to have made a foothold in other parts of the world.

“Whether they attack people, plants, or animals, viruses continue to evolve in order to compete and survive,” Pappu said. “The variants we see in COVID-19 are good examples, as is Iris yellow spot virus.

The study provided insight into the speed with which this virus is evolving and spreading.

“What we learned with this fingerprinting of a global collection helps improve our understanding of the emergence of severe strains that can cause more damage to crops and to develop appropriate disease management tactics,” Pappu said.

The team’s research was published this fall in Frontiers in Microbiology. Co-authors include Tabassum, Pappu, WSU post-doctoral researchers Ying Zhai, Romana Iftikhar, and Cristian Olaya, as well as S.V. Ramesh, scientist with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

Their project is funded in part by the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, and USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

Read Full Post »

New research shows gene exchange between viruses and hosts drives evolution

Date:January 5, 2022Source:University of British ColumbiaSummary:The first comprehensive analysis of viral horizontal gene transfer (HGT) illustrates the extent to which viruses pick up genes from their hosts to hone their infection process, while at the same time hosts also co-opt useful viral genes.Share:FULL STORY

Viruses illustration (stock image).Credit: © successphoto / stock.adobe.com

The first comprehensive analysis of viral horizontal gene transfer (HGT) illustrates the extent to which viruses pick up genes from their hosts to hone their infection process, while at the same time hosts also co-opt useful viral genes.

HGT is the movement of genetic material between disparate groups of organisms, rather than by the “vertical” transmission of DNA from parent to offspring. Previous studies have looked at HGT between bacteria and their viruses and have shown that it plays a major role in the movement of genes between bacterial species. However the new study, published in Nature Microbiology, looks at interactions between viruses and eukaryotes, which include animals, plants, fungi, protists and most algae.

“We knew from individual examples that viral genes have played a role in the evolution of eukaryotes. Even humans have viral genes, which are important for our development and brain function,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Nicholas Irwin, a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College, University of Oxford, and former PhD student at the University of British Columbia (UBC). “We wanted to understand more broadly how HGT has affected viruses and eukaryotes from across the tree of life.”

To tackle this problem, the authors examined viral-eukaryotic gene transfer in the genomes of hundreds of eukaryotic species and thousands of viruses. They identified many genes that had been transferred and found that HGT from eukaryotes to viruses was twice as frequent as the reverse direction.

“We were interested to find that certain groups of viruses, especially those that infect single-celled eukaryotes, acquire a lot of genes from their hosts,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Patrick Keeling, a professor in the Department of Botany at UBC. “By studying the function of these genes we were able to make predictions about how these viruses affect their hosts during infection.”

In contrast to viruses, eukaryotic organisms retained fewer viral genes, although the ones that were kept appear to have had a major impact on host biology over evolutionary time.

“Many of these viral-derived genes appear to have repeatedly affected the structure and form of different organisms, from the cell walls of algae to the tissues of animals,” said Dr. Irwin. “This suggests that host-virus interactions may have played an important role in driving the diversity of life we see today.”

“These transfers not only have evolutionary consequences for both virus and host, but could have important health implications,” Dr. Keeling said.

HGT allows genes to jump between species including viruses and their hosts. If the gene does something useful, it can sweep through the population and become a feature of that species. This can lead to a rapid emergence of new abilities, as opposed to the more incremental changes that result from smaller mutations.

Although viruses such as Zika and coronaviruses do not appear to participate in these gene transfers, they often manipulate similar genes in their hosts through complex mechanisms. Future research into these transferred genes may therefore provide a novel approach for understanding the infection processes of these and other viruses which could be important for drug discovery.

“The past two years have clearly demonstrated the destructive potential of viruses, but we think that this work serves as an interesting reminder that viruses have also contributed to the evolution of life on Earth,” said Dr. Irwin.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of British ColumbiaNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Nicholas A. T. Irwin, Alexandros A. Pittis, Thomas A. Richards, Patrick J. Keeling. Systematic evaluation of horizontal gene transfer between eukaryotes and virusesNature Microbiology, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41564-021-01026-3

Read Full Post »

New focus on emerging viral diseases

November 09, 2021

A new Horizon 2020 project is underway to address viral diseases responsible for major crop losses in tomatoes and cucurbits in Europe and beyond. Called ‘VIRTIGATION – Emerging viral diseases in tomatoes and cucurbits: Implementation of mitigation strategies for durable disease management’, the project includes INRAE, one of ENDURE’s French partners, Germany’s Julius Kühn Institute (JKI) and Wageningen University (WU) and Stichting Wageningen Research (WR) from the Netherlands.

VIRTIGATION is running for four years (2021 to 2025) and is being coordinated by the Laboratory for Tropical Crop Improvement at the Department of Biosystems of KU Leuven (Belgium). In particular, it is seeking to develop short, medium and long-term solutions to whitefly-transmitted begomoviruses and mechanically transmitted tobamoviruses in tomato and cucurbit crops.

The project reports: “Every year, viral diseases wreak havoc on tomato and cucurbit crops worldwide, destroying in Europe alone billions of EUR in harvest. The EU-funded VIRTIGATION project is on a mission to combat this viral crop destruction and safeguard tomatoes and cucurbits.

“Viral diseases are not only affecting European fields and greenhouses: across the globe, from Morocco, Israel to India, tomatoes and cucurbits are vital staple crops that are under threat. Colossal losses in harvests have been reported, ranging from 15% to entire crop destruction. As the world needs to increase its food production by at least half by 2050 to feed a growing population, mitigating the devastating impact of plant diseases is essential to ensure sufficient food supply, both in quantity and quality.”

VIRTIGATION has set itself six specific objectives:

  • Knowledge sharing and engagement of stakeholders in research activities
  • Develop robust diagnostic tests, quarantine measures and identify ecological factors driving disease outbreaks
  • Understand plant-virus-vector interactions
  • Develop IPM solutions
  • Identify and pyramid natural resistance to viral diseases and vectors
  • Train the tomato and cucurbit value chains

INRAE will be involved in the research on viral genome sequencing and monitoring virus outbreaks, plant-virus-vector interactions and the spread of emerging viral diseases under climate change, and will also be the National Knowledge Broker for France in the project’s multi-actor approach.

JKI is the National Knowledge Broker for Germany and will mainly be involved in the “research on plant-virus-vector interactions and integrated virus and vector management, where it is exploring viral symptom determinants of ToBRFV (Tomato brown rugose fruit virus) to support the search for virus isolates that could be used in cross-protection strategies”.

WU will be contributing to the research on plant-virus-vector interactions and the spread of emerging viral diseases under climate change, with a focus on tomato-geminivirus-whitefly interactions, and finding tomato genes for resistance to ToBRFV.

WR’s departments of Plant Breeding and Biointeractions & Plant Health are contributing to all the project’s research work packages, “with a particular focus on virus epidemiology and ecology, as well as virus and vector control through breeding and Integrated Pest Management (IPM)”. WR is also the National Knowledge Broker for the Netherlands.

For more information:

Last update: 23/12/2021 – ENDURE © 2009 – 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »