Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Avoiding virus dangers in 'domesticating' wild plants for biofuel use

Date:
February 17, 2013
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
In our ongoing quest for alternative energy sources, researchers are looking more to plants that grow in the wild for use in biofuels -- plants such as switchgrass.

In our ongoing quest for alternative energy sources, researchers are looking more to plants that grow in the wild for use in biofuels, plants such as switchgrass.

However, attempts to "domesticate" wild-growing plants have a downside, as it could make the plants more susceptible to any number of plant viruses.

In a presentation at this year's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Michigan State University plant biologist Carolyn Malmstrom said that when we start combining the qualities of different types of plants into one, there can be unanticipated results.

"Most wild plants are perennials, while most of our agriculture crops are annuals," Malmstrom said. "Sometimes when you mix the properties of the two, unexpected things can happen."

For example, annual domestic plants are made to grow quickly. "In agriculture we select more for growth," she said. "There is a reduced need for the plants to defend themselves because we have taken care of that."

If pest control measures aren't taken, these annual plants can serve as "amplifiers," producing lots of viruses and insects to move the viruses around.

In contrast, perennial plants in nature grow slower, but are usually better equipped to fight off invading viruses. When wild-growing perennials do get infected they can serve as reservoirs for viruses, Malmstrom said, "a place where viruses can hang out a long time."

In the domestication of wild plants for bioenergy, long-lived plants are being selected for fast growth like annuals. "Now you have a plant that could be a long-term reservoir, but it also happens to be faster growing and can serve as an amplifier for viruses. This all-in-one combination could increase virus pressure in crop areas unless mitigated."

Malmstrom said that plant virus ecology and the study of viral interactions between wild-growing plants and agricultural crops is an expanding field. In the last 15 years, disease ecology has really come to the fore as a basic science.

Most of what is known about plant viruses comes from studies of crops. To understand the complete ecology of viruses, researchers are now studying these tiny organisms in nature, too. "The mysteries of how plant viruses can play a role in ecosystem properties and processes in natural ecosystems are emerging more slowly," Malmstrom said.

Malmstrom said it's important to catch-up in our understanding of viral ecology, as there are any number of societal issues that need to be addressed in this area.

"Society wants us to be able to answer questions such as whether viruses can be used in agricultural terrorism, how to recognize a novel virus, and what happens if a virus is genetically modified and then let loose?"


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Avoiding virus dangers in 'domesticating' wild plants for biofuel use." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130217085025.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2013, February 17). Avoiding virus dangers in 'domesticating' wild plants for biofuel use. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130217085025.htm
Michigan State University. "Avoiding virus dangers in 'domesticating' wild plants for biofuel use." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130217085025.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) It took Houston firefighters more than an hour to free a puppy who got its head stuck in a tire. (Aug. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Great White Shark Spotted Off Massachusetts Coast

Great White Shark Spotted Off Massachusetts Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) A great white shark is spotted off the shore at Duxbury beach in Massachusetts forcing beach goers out of the water. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elk Wanders Into German Office Building

Raw: Elk Wanders Into German Office Building

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) A young bull elk wandered inside the office building of a company in Dresden, Germany on Monday. The elk became trapped between a wall and glass windows while rescue workers tried to rescue him safely. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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