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Viral manipulation of plant-vector interactions: CONNECTED Online Seminar

An online presentation by Professor John P. Carr entitled ‘Viral manipulation of plant-vector interactions’ is now available to watch on the CONNECTED Vimeo channel.

Prof. Carr’s research interests at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences include plant-virus-insect interactions, and natural and engineered resistance to plant viruses.

In the presentation, which formed part of the April 2021 CONNECTED Online seminar, Prof. Carr summarises some of the fundamental research that has underpinned some of the collaborative activities with African partners that have been funded by CONNECTED.

Prof. Carr focuses on a series of examples of lab work, mostly using cucumber mosaic virus as a model, investigating how some viruses appear to be able to modify the biochemistry and defence status of the host plant in ways that alter interactions between host plants and insect vectors, and how these changes might accelerate virus transmission.

In the presentation, Prof. Carr highlights research conducted by a number of early career researchers: Ana Bravo; Sun Ju-Rhee; Sam Crawshaw and Lewis Watt; Trisna Tungadi, and Ruairi Donnelly.

CONNECTED network members can watch Dr. Carr’s presentation using this link. You will need to be logged in as a CONNECTED member on the device you are using.

**Prof. Carr was unable to address questions raised at the end of his presentation but has subsequently provided the following responses

Q. Does the volatiles interfere and confuse the settling of aphids in the assay- plants are quite closely placed?

Prof. Carr: Thank you for your question. The experiments shown assay the combined effects of olfactory cues, appearance (if done under normal illumination), so we also do olfactometry (e.g. Y-tube) to isolate the effects of volatiles.

Q. I wanted to know which type of environment favour aphids to change sex. for example male to female.

Prof. Carr: Thank you for your question. An individual aphid does not change sex during its lifetime, but under certain environmental or seasonal circumstances females will start to produce males. I have attached a short review about this, which I hope is useful (Braendel et al. attached).

Q. Do you think the result of your study is also applicable to other viruses vectored by aphids? or other viruses vectored by other

Prof. Carr: Thank you for your question. Yes, we think some of the findings will be useful for understanding viruses that are transmitted in the non-persistent mode. This is particularly so with respect to the changes in behaviour caused by the virally induced changes in plant taste, odour or surface cues. However, how the plant is specifically manipulated by CMV or how CMV proteins interact with each other is of more specialist interest to people working on cucumoviruses.