Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plant Virus Spreads By Making Life Easy For Crop Pests

Date:
November 10, 2008
Source:
Rockefeller University
Summary:
In 752, Japanese Empress Koken wrote a short poem about the summertime yellowing of a field in what is thought to be the first account of a viral plant disease. More than 1,250 years later, scientists concluded that the virus Koken described was part of the particularly insidious geminivirus family that continues to decimate tomato, tobacco and cotton crops worldwide.

Deformed and defenseless. New research shows how a virus deploys a single molecule, ēC1, to turn a healthy tobacco plant (left) into a deformed and sterile one (right). The molecule also tricks the plant into lowering its defenses against the pests that spread the virus.
Credit: Image courtesy of Rockefeller University

In 752, Japanese Empress Koken wrote a short poem about the summertime yellowing of a field in what is thought to be the first account of a viral plant disease. More than 1,250 years later, scientists concluded that the virus Koken described was part of the particularly insidious geminivirus family that continues to decimate tomato, tobacco and cotton crops worldwide.

Related Articles


Now, new research shows how cunning an enemy one of these ancient viruses can be, manufacturing a protein that deforms and sterilizes plants and at the same time wrecks their defenses against the pests that spread the disease to others.

Researchers at The Rockefeller University have found that βC1, a toxic protein produced by the tomato yellow leaf curl China virus (TYLCCV), mimics the behavior of one of two different molecules that govern the development of leaf shape and vein structure. In doing so, it throws the plants off course, causing the unseemly curling and crumpling of leaves and the production of sterile flowers. But it also suppresses the plants’ jasmonic acid response, a defense mechanism against pests feeding on the plants. The result is that the pests — in this case whiteflies that plague tobacco plants — flourish in the diseased crop, spreading the virus faster and faster. Nam-Hai Chua, Andrew W. Mellon Professor and head of the Laboratory of Plant Molecular Biology, and his colleagues published the work in Genes and Development.

“This is a new way to look at the relationship between viruses, plants and vectors,” says Jun-Yi Yang, a postdoc in Chua’s lab who did the research. “If you just look at viruses and host plants, you can’t explain why the whiteflies tend to congregate on infected plants. Our research explains how the disease can spread so fast.”

The researchers inserted a gene that produces βC1 into Arabidopsis plants, model organisms for studying plant biology. The plants grew up with symptoms very similar to those of tobacco plants infected with TYLCCV. Yang and colleagues found that these mutants had the same problems as plants that overproduced a protein known as Asymmetric leaves 2 (AS2), which along with Asymmetric leaves 1 (AS1), regulates crucial elements of a plant’s development. In effect, βC1 poses as AS2 and interacts with AS1, upsetting the healthy development of plants. But it also weakens the response of genes that normally boost the jasmonic acid defense against the threat of an invasive pest, the researchers found.

The discovery of how a toxic protein manipulates the relationship of the plant and the whitefly to favor the virus could lead to a more comprehensive strategy for fighting the disease. “You need to fight against both viruses and insect vectors,” Yang says. “If you can increase the jasmonic acid response, you’ll have a better chance against whiteflies.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rockefeller University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yang et al. {beta}C1, the pathogenicity factor of TYLCCNV, interacts with AS1 to alter leaf development and suppress selective jasmonic acid responses. Genes & Development, 2008; 22 (18): 2564 DOI: 10.1101/gad.1682208

Cite This Page:

Rockefeller University. "Plant Virus Spreads By Making Life Easy For Crop Pests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081030202240.htm>.
Rockefeller University. (2008, November 10). Plant Virus Spreads By Making Life Easy For Crop Pests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081030202240.htm
Rockefeller University. "Plant Virus Spreads By Making Life Easy For Crop Pests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081030202240.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins