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SUBVERSION OF INSECT RESISTANCE: A NOVEL ROLE FOR A PLANT VIRAL SILENCING SUPPRESSOR

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How to combat cucumber mosaic virus

Understanding the interactions between plants, plant viruses and insect carriers is the key to minimising crop losses and improving food security. Researchers recently investigated a virus protein that can regulate plant resistance to aphids.

Climate Change and Environment

Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) is a common plant virus transmitted by aphids, which causes major damage to a wide range of crop plants every year. The virus produces a protein called 2b, which attacks the immune system of the plant, allowing the virus to take hold.The EU-funded 'Subversion of insect resistance: A novel role for plant viral silencing suppressor' (VIRUSES AND APHIDS) project used advanced genetic tests to study the 2b protein. It looked specifically at the effect of 2b on the plants' defences and other systems.Researchers created a CMV mutant lacking the 2b protein, and infected plants with either the mutated or unmutated virus. They found that the 2b-producing version switched on genes involved in defence and stress responses. Infection with the mutant on the other hand, switched on no such defensive genes.They then determined that the 2b protein affects the plant by interfering with the salicylic acid and jasmonic acid signalling pathways. In addition, researchers showed that plants infected with CMV accumulated an anti-aphid chemical called 4MI3M glucosinolate.These insights into CMV-induced aphid resistance can be applied in future studies on how to protect crops against this pest. The next step is to fully understand how CMV and the 2b protein interact with the plants’ defence response.

Keywords

Aphids, cucumber mosaic virus, 2b protein, aphid resistance, plants, signalling pathways

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