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A major virus threat to UK crops

Primary Supervisor: Professor John Walsh, School of Life Sciences

Secondary supervisor: Dr. Graham Teakle and Dr. Dieter Hackenberg

PhD project title: A major virus threat to UK crops

University of Registration: University of Warwick

Project outline:

Turnip yellows virus (TuYV) is the most important viral diseases in commercial brassica crops and causes up to 46% yield losses. TuYV belongs to the Polerovirus genus and is transmitted by aphids. This single stranded RNA virus is phloem-limited and visual symptoms infection are often subtle and difficult to detect. In brassicas TuYV infection is wide spread and incidence rates are high. Today crop protection against TuYV heavily depends on genetic resistance. There is only one source for partial resistance to TuYV available in Europe. No resistance gene to TuYV was identified and our knowledge of the molecular mechanism of TuYV infection in plants is still fragmentary.

This project aims to identify candidate genes responsible for TuYV resistance in a recently mapped resistant brassica plant line using NGS technology. Candidate genes will be taken forward for proof of concept studies in a model plant system in this project.

A second objective is to analyse TuYV infection in pea (Pisum sativum). Recently, TuYV was detected in agronomically important pea crops. The extent and impact of the TuYV outbreaks in pea are still unknown and there is an urgent need to assess the risks TuYV presents for pea crops. The UK is the largest producer of frozen peas in Europe and annual production of more than 160,000 tonnes underpins the commercial importance of this crop. The aims of this component of the project is to identify the range of TuYV isolates capable of infecting pea, quantify virus titres in different commercial pea varieties during infection and determine the impact on growth and yield.

BBSRC Strategic Research Priority: Sustainable Agriculture and Food, Plant and Crop Science

Techniques that will be undertaken during the project:

  • Virus detection and quantification via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and RT-PCR
  • Data analysis DNA-seq and phylogenetic analysis
  • Molecular biological techniques like PCR, cloning, sequencing etc.
  • Plant transformation

Contact: Professor John Walsh, University of Warwick