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
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction