skip to primary navigationskip to content

Carr Group: Plant viruses: Effects on drought resilience

GFC / OTHER

Supervisor: John Carr (Plant Sciences

Project Summary

It seems increasingly likely that in wild plant communities viruses act as mutualists and may influence plant evolution. The 'arms-race' model proposes that evolution of resistance forces more aggressive virus strains to evolve, which in turn drive evolution of better-defended plants and so on, ad infinitum. This may oversimplify plant-virus interactions since 'deal-making' also occurs. For example, many viruses 'pay back' plants by improving drought survival. Hypothetically, resistance becomes a liability if only virus-infected plants survive drought. We will: 1. Use multi-generation 'artificial evolution' experiments to investigate the competitiveness of susceptible versus resistant plants under drought, and 2. Determine how virus-induced drought survival works.

Arabidopsis' rapid 8-week generation time facilitates 'artificial evolution' studies. Turnip mosaic virus enhances drought resilience in infected plants. Depriving plants of water for 14 d (before re-irrigation to allow flowering/seed-set) decreases plant survival to <10%, with survivors yielding 20% of control seed numbers. Starting with 1000 seed (susceptible:resistant in various proportions), selection scenarios will be imposed. Under Scenario 1 (no drought, all plants infected) the 'arms-race' hypothesis should hold with virus-induced decreases in seed yield, causing a 9:1 susceptible:resistant starting population to be 99% resistant in 5 generations (Cf. Control Scenario 2, no virus/no drought: ratios will not change). Under Scenario 3 imposing drought conditions in addition to viral challenge will depress virus-resistant plant seed yield by 80%. If the payback hypothesis is correct, a 9:1 resistant:susceptible population will become >98% susceptible in 6 generations. We will also investigate production of compatible solutes & phytohormones in infected plants to understand the mechanisms of drought resilience. Training: Analytical techniques using liquid chromatography and mass spectroscopy, virology including diagnostics.

Reading:

  • Carr, J.P. 2017. Exploring how viruses enhance plants' resilience to drought and the limits to this form of viral payback. Plant, Cell and Environment 40: 2906-2908. DOI: 10.1111/pce.13068
  • Groen, S.C., et al. 2016. Virus infection of plants alters pollinator preference: A payback for susceptible hosts? PLoS Pathogens 12(8): e1005790., doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1005790
  • Roossinck, M.J., & Bazán, E.R. 2017. Symbiosis: Viruses as intimate partners. Annual Review of Virology, 4: 123-139. doi.org/10.1146/annurev-virology-110615-042323

 

 

 

Filed under: , , ,

The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.