The single-stranded DNA, whitefly-transmitted begomoviruses are among the most serious emerging crop pathogens worldwide. To enhance current knowledge of begomovirus diversity, evolution, and biogeography, this project utilizes a novel approach of identifying begomoviruses directly from the Bemisia tabaci whitefly vector. This approach exploits the natural ability of whiteflies to concentrate viruses from the many plants they feed upon, and leverages the capability of metagenomic tools for discovering new viruses. Whitefly samples will be collected from tomato and squash fields from eight countries on six continents. Metagenomic sequencing will yield numerous complete begomovirus genome sequences, which will be used to improve our knowledge of begomovirus phylogeny and evolution. Deep sequencing of the begomovirus core coat protein region will enable direct comparisons of begomovirus diversity between crops and geographic locations. This global vector-based survey will substantially increase our understanding of begomovirus diversity, recombination, biogeography, and emergence. Since begomoviruses are dangerous plant pathogens that pose a significant threat to global food biosecurity, this project has significant implications for agriculture. A graduate student and a postdoctoral researcher will be trained in cutting-edge molecular biology and bioinformatics techniques through this project. In addition, a Girl Scout 'Virus Hunter' patch program will be developed to introduce young women to research in the detection and control of emerging viruses.
|Effective start/end date||9/1/10 → 8/31/13|
- National Science Foundation (NSF)