skip to primary navigationskip to content

Carr Group: Plant Virology: Interactions between viral proteins that affect host resistance to insect vectors


Supervisor: John Carr (Plant Sciences

Project Summary

Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) encodes five proteins. Three of these genes, called proteins 1a, 2a, and 2b, work in concert to trigger changes in Arabidopsis biochemistry, including glucosinolate biosynthesis. Glucosinolates are plant natural products that are unpalatable to insects, which is why aphids move away from CMV-infected plants and spread virus more efficiently. These three viral proteins were known to participate in either viral replication (proteins 1a and 2a), or in suppression of RNA silencing (the 2b protein). Our experiments showed that the 2b protein expressed in transgenic plants induces toxicity against aphids. If this occurred during CMV infection, it would damage aphids' ability to transport CMV. However, in a CMV-infected plant, the 1a protein limits the activity of the 2b protein and, meanwhile, the 2a protein triggers increased production of glucosinolates. We do not know how 1a inhibits 2b activity or how 2a triggers glucosinolate production but it is most likely that 1a and 2a perform these functions by interacting with factors made by the host. If we can identify these host factors this will enable us to devise improved methods to inhibit virus transmission by aphids. Because aphids spread most plant viruses, the work has potential for translation to crop protection. The student will help to generate and then use 1a, 2a and 2b-derived wild-type and mutant constructs for protein binding studies including bimolecular fluorescence complementation to characterize the interactions of these viral proteins and their cell biology.


  • Westwood, J.H., Groen, S.C., Du, Z., Murphy, A.M., Tri-Anggoro, D., Tungadi, T., Luang-In, V., Lewsey, M.G., Rossiter, J., Powell, G., Smith, A.G. and Carr, J.P. (2013). A trio of viral proteins tunes aphid-plant interactions in Arabidopsis thaliana.  PlosOne 8(12): e83066  
  • Groen, S.C., Wamonje, F.O., Murphy, A.M. and Carr, J.P. (2017). Engineering resistance to virus transmission. Current Opinions in Virology 26:20–27.


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.