Visually indistinguishable particles of Brome Mosaic Virus. (Ayala Rao/UCR)
UC Riverside scientists have solved a 20-year-old genetics puzzle that could result in ways to protect wheat, barley, and other crops from a devastating infection.
Ayala Rao, professor of plant pathology and microbiology, has been studying Brome Mosaic virus for decades. Unlike some viruses, the genetic material of this virus is divided into three particles that until now were impossible to tell apart.
“Without a more definitive picture of the differences between these particles, we couldn’t fully understand how they work together to initiate an infection that destroys food crops,” Rao said. “Our approach to this problem has brought an important part of this picture into very clear focus.”
A paper describing the work Rao’s team did to differentiate these particles was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Inside each of the particles is a strand of RNA, the genetic material that controls the production of proteins. The proteins perform different tasks, some of which cause stunted growth, lesions, and ultimately death of infected host plants.
Two decades ago, scientists used the average of all three particles to create a basic description of their structure. In order to differentiate them, Rao first needed to separate them, and get them into their most pure form.
Using a genetic engineering technique, Rao’s team disabled the pathogenic aspects of the virus and infused the viral genes with a host plant.
“This bacterium inserts its genome into the plant’s cells, similar to the way HIV inserts itself into human cells,” Rao said. “We were then able to isolate the viral particles in the plants and determine their structure using electron microscopes and computer-based technology.”
Now that one of the particles is fully mapped, it’s clear the first two particles are more stable than the third.
“Once we alter the stability, we can manipulate how RNA gets released into the plants,” Rao said. “We can make the third particle more stable, so it doesn’t release RNA and the infection gets delayed.”
This work was made possible by a grant from the University of California Multicampus Research Program and Initiatives. Professors Wiliam Gelbart, Chuck Knobler, and Hong Zhou of UCLA, as well as graduate students Antara Chakravarthy of UCR and Christian Beren of UCLA, made significant contributions to this project.
Moving forward, Rao is hoping to bring the other two viral particles into sharper focus with the expertise of scientists at UCLA and UC San Diego.
Brome Mosaic virus primarily affects grasses such as wheat and barley, and occasionally affects soybeans as well. According to Rao, it is nearly identical to Cucumber Mosaic virus, which infects cucumbers as well as tomatoes and other crops that are important to California agriculture.
Not only could this research lead to the protection of multiple kinds of crops, it could advance the understanding of any virus.
“It is much easier to work with plant viruses because they’re easier and less expensive to grow and isolate,” Rao said. “But what we learn about the principles of replication are applicable to human and animal viruses too.”
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Brome Mosaic virus
- Mutations in virus-derived small RNAson June 12, 2020 at 2:16 am
4). Wheat cultivars Arapahoe and Mace have a contrasting response to Wheat streak mosaic virus (WSMV). Mace is resistant to WSMV at 18°C and susceptible at 27 °C. Arapahoe is susceptible both ...
- Innovative Virus Research May Save Wheat and Other Cropson May 18, 2020 at 5:42 am
Ayala Rao, professor of plant pathology and microbiology, has been studying Brome Mosaic virus for decades. Unlike some viruses, the genetic material of this virus is divided into three particles that ...
- Brome Mosaic Virus virions (image)on May 15, 2020 at 6:36 am
Visually indistinguishable particles of Brome Mosaic Virus. Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing ...
- Modification of intracellular membrane structures for virus replicationon December 21, 2017 at 6:31 pm
The role of the virus-induced membrane structures discussed above in regards to viral-RNA synthesis is not well understood. However, they have been proposed to help to increase the local ...
- Recent Publicationson March 24, 2016 at 5:55 am
Duclos, G; Adkins, A; Banerjee, D; Peterson, MSE; Varghese, M; Kolvin, I; Baskaran, Ar; Pelcovits, RA; Powers, TR; Baskaran, Ap; Toschi, F; Hagan, MF; Streichan, SJ ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Brome Mosaic virus
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Rural Missouri pastor: Virus 'just started to sprout up'on June 23, 2020 at 12:10 pm
Pastor Joshua Manning is waiting for test results, but he can tell by the persistent fever and body aches that he probably has the coronavirus. At the start of June, McDonald County in the far southwe ...
- VIRUS DIARY: Trying to work while the mind works against youon June 23, 2020 at 12:10 pm
You who dutifully tried meditation, yoga, baking, knitting, plant-rearing and general self-care even before ... at least once we all have the luxury of doing more than just surviving. Virus Diary, an ...
- Google Mapped The Internet—Brightseed Is Mapping The Hidden Connection Between Plants And Human Healthon June 23, 2020 at 12:02 pm
Plants are a complex system ... Modern medicine has traditionally played a role in treating acute disease and managing chronic diseases while healthy food can play a central role in proactive health.
- The Latest: FDA chief denies feeling pressure on virus drugson June 23, 2020 at 11:09 am
The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tells House lawmakers he hasn't felt any political pressure from the Trump administration to make decisions related to therapies for COVID-19. The FDA ...
- NCSU leading national study using wastewater samples to measure spread of coronavirus | Raleigh News & Observeron June 23, 2020 at 10:59 am
People can shed the coronavirus in bodily fluids. A team at NC State wants to know if monitoring the virus in sewage can help predict a future outbreak.