High-Resolution Method for Plant Viruses
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High-Resolution Method for Plant Viruses: Family of Plant Viruses Revealed for the First Time

For the first time, it is possible now to take a molecular-level look at one of the world’s deadliest crop-killers.

The Luteoviridae is one of the pathogenic plant viruses which are responsible for the major crop losses worldwide. It is transmitted by aphids and the viruses infect a wide range of food crops including cereals, legumes, cucurbits, sugar beet, sugarcane, & potato.

Scientists have been unable to generate the quantities of these viruses that are needed to study their structures in high resolution.

Now a team of scientists has used recent advances in the plant expression technology for generating sufficient quantities of the pathogen to allow more detailed scrutiny with a state-of-the-art microscopy technique.

The recent method involves infiltrating a type of tobacco plant with the genes necessary to create virus-like particles i.e, VLPs. From the inserted genetic information, the virus-like particles self-assemble inside the plant host. This new technique avoids the need to handle this infectious virus.

Using the virus-like particles extracted from the plants the team from the John Innes Centre & the Astbury Biostructure Laboratory, University of Leeds, could observe the viral structures

to a high resolution by cryo-electron microscopy.

This provided, for the first time, a molecular level high-resolution insight into how the plant virus capsid forms & suggests how these viruses are transmitted by aphids. The new method may help unlock the secrets of other viruses, said the research team involved in the recent study.

George Lomonossoff who is a professor of the John Innes Centre said that the recent development actually provides a platform for the development of diagnostic tools for this important Luteoviridae family of plant viruses that cause enormous crop loses worldwide.

Professor Neil Ranson of the University of Leeds added that the combination of plant expression technology & structural biology is hugely exciting, and now it can be used to understand the structures of many other types of virus particles.

Plant virus infection is actually responsible for global economic losses estimated at $30 billion.

Luteoviridae virus attacks the plant vasculature which causes severe stunting leading to vast crop loss. This family includes barley yellow dwarf virus & potato leafroll virus which causes the crop losses to a value of £40-60m/year in the United Kingdom.

The full research study ‘Combining Transient Expression & Cryo-EM to Obtain High-Resolution Structures of Luteovirid virus Particles’ appears in the Cell Press journal Structure.


Editor’s Note: High-Resolution Method for Plant Viruses, High-resolution microscopy, plant viruses, Cryo-EM, Luteoviridae Virus.

Ria Roy completed her Post Grad degree at the Visvesvaraya Technological University. She has a great grounding in the skills, including technical, analytical and research skills. She is a motivated life science professional with experience of working in famous research institutes