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Oral: Contributions of Plant Viruses to Phytobiome Research


Players in the phytobiome: vector-borne viruses and their interactions with insect hosts
A. WHITFIELD (1), D. Rotenberg (1) (1) Kansas State University, U.S.A.

The majority of economically-important plant viruses are transmitted by arthropod vectors. While the ecological interactions among plants, viruses, and vectors are known to be influenced by various abiotic and biotic factors, relatively little is known about the molecular basis of acquisition and transmission of viruses to plant hosts. Our initiative is to catalog and characterize the direct interactions between propagative viruses and their insect hosts. The corn planthopper (Peregrinus maidis) and Maize mosaic virus (MMV, genus Nucleorhabdovirus) system is a tractable framework for studying molecular virus-vector interactions. We use RNA-Seq and yeast two-hybrid assays (Y2H) to describe the vector transcriptome and interactome. Infection of P. maidis with MMV resulted in the differential expression of 144 transcripts, and Y2H analysis of MMV glycoprotein (G) interactions with P. maidis revealed more than 100 unique interactors that may play roles in vector competence. A significant number of P. maidis transcripts that were responsive to MMV infection (39%) or interacted with G (59%) were non- annotated, a finding that underscores the need for resolving gene function in non-model insects in general, and more specifically herbivorous vectors. These findings provide a foundation for future work on functional analysis of molecular determinants of plant virus transmission in the context of complex genetic and environmental factors that shape the phytobiome.