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
- A Brief History Of Viruseson March 1, 2021 at 4:01 pm
The Brome Mosaic virus easily passed through filters. Source In that same year, a pair of German scientists, Friedrich Loeffler and Paul Frosch, performed the same experiment which returned the ...
- Strategies for delivering therapeutics across the blood–brain barrieron March 1, 2021 at 3:18 pm
Achieving sufficient delivery across the blood–brain barrier is a key challenge in the development of drugs to treat central nervous system (CNS) disorders. This is particularly the case for ...
- Sleep on your side? This pillow could help you have a restful nighton February 25, 2021 at 4:12 am
We can't say that waking up for work in the morning is one of our favourite parts of the day, but waking to find you've got a stiff neck or a sore back just adds insult to injury. Whether you're a ...
- Research Programs and Projects at this Locationon February 24, 2021 at 4:00 pm
ARS research is organized into National Programs. Within each National Program are research projects. Listed below are the National Programs and research projects currently conducted at this location.
- Anti-Chinese sign outside Ontario bar sparks calls for actionon February 19, 2021 at 6:31 am
On Thursday morning, the board read, "Mr Ford, history will show lockdowns caused more damage 2 the public then [sic] the China virus ... aspect of the Canadian mosaic?" said the statement.
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Brome Mosaic virus
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- The Latest: WH: Listen to health experts on masks, viruson March 4, 2021 at 11:51 am
The White House says President Joe Biden was expressing his “frustration and exasperation” when he said Republican governors lifting mask mandates and other virus measures were acting like ...
- Viruses May Have Played Important Role in Creating Earth’s Earliest Lifeformson March 4, 2021 at 8:32 am
Viruses may be the missing piece of the puzzle that could help explain how soft microbial mats transition into hard stromatolites that are prevalent in such places as Shark Bay and the Pilbara in ...
- 100% plant-based food now availableon March 4, 2021 at 8:11 am
THE pandemic has spurred many to make the dramatic shift to healthy living in order to boost their immunity and prevent diseases. It’s no surprise then that a growing number of consumers have started ...
- Famed Madrid flamenco venue closes amid virus restrictionson March 4, 2021 at 7:59 am
Artists at one of Madrid’s best-known flamenco bars put on a final outdoor show Thursday, marking its closure after 140 years because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that have ...
- Virus Updates: Biden Calls Ending Mask Mandates ‘Big Mistake'on March 4, 2021 at 5:19 am
President Joe Biden announced the United States will have enough coronavirus vaccine doses to inoculate the nation’s entire adult population by May. To help with the effort, drugmaker Merck will ...