The virus is associated with mosaic and yellow streak symptoms on switchgrass leaves. This virus has the potential of reducing photosynthesis and decreasing biomass yield. Members of this genus have been known to cause severe yield losses in other crops.
For example, Maize rayado fino virus (MRFV), a type member of the genus, has been reported to cause yield reductions in corn grown in Mexico, Central America and South America.
"Viral diseases are potentially significant threats to bioenergy crops such as Miscanthus x giganteus, energycane and switchgrass," said Bright Agindotan, research associate working in Carl Bradley's laboratory as part of the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) located in the Institute for Genomic Biology at the U of I. "Our team at EBI has been charged with identifying potential pests and pathogens of these bioenergy crops."
Until recently, little has been known about viruses in these bioenergy crops. Agindotan said most plants can be infected with multiple viruses, making it a challenge to know which viruses to start screening for, especially when only a few viruses have been reported to affect these crops.
Agindotan developed a method that allows for the identification of a virus without prior knowledge of it. He successfully used sequence-independent amplification (SIA) to identify RNA viruses. This is the first time it has been fully described and used for plant virus identification.
The method involves virus partial purification for a small amount of infected leaf tissue, extraction of viral RNA, random amplification, cloning, sequencing, and searching databases to identify the virus.
"Sequence-independent amplification has a distinct advantage over other virus characterization techniques in that it does not require specific reagents to target viruses," he said. "This test will help us specifically identify uncharacterized viruses. In other words, you don't have to know which virus you are looking for, exactly, to able to be able to identify the virus causing the problem."
The identified virus in switchgrass is different, but related to the MRFV that has been reported to infect corn elsewhere, but has never been reported in Illinois.
The Marafivirus was identified in switchgrass from a U of I research field near campus, where 20 to 30 percent of the plot was infected with this virus.
"We are still working on identifying the insects that are responsible for transmitting it," he said. "We know that its MRFV relative is transmitted by leafhoppers in corn, but we are still trying to confirm the exact species that transmit this virus in switchgrass."
At this time, researchers cannot confirm if this virus affects other crops.
"We don't yet know if the Marafivirus in switchgrass evolved from the one that infects maize or vice versa," he said.
Developing biomass crops that do not harbor pathogens that can spread to nearby cultivated food crops such as cereals is a high priority for plant breeders. This discovery will help plant breeders develop resistant varieties, Agindotan said.
The group will report the full genome sequence of the switchgrass virus soon.
This study, "Application of sequence-independent amplification (SIA) for the identification of RNA viruses in bioenergy crops," was published in the Journal of Virological Methods. Researchers include Bright Agindotan, Monday Ahonsi, Leslie Domier, Michael Gray and Carl Bradley, all of the U of I.
The EBI is a collaboration between the University of California's Berkeley campus, the federal Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, funded by energy corporation BP. The unique public-private partnership is in its third year of studying the prospects for, and impacts of, alternative transportation fuels and microbial hydrocarbon recovery. The portfolio currently stands at more than 70 awarded studies.
Jennifer Shike | EurekAlert!
Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University
New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine