DSSS - The cell snatchers: Unravelling plant manipulation by geminiviruses

  • Date: Mar 15, 2024
  • Time: 03:00 PM - 04:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Dr. Rosa Lozano Durán
  • Plant Biochemistry, University of Tübingen
  • Location: MPI für Biologie, Max-Planck-Ring 5, room 0A01
 DSSS - The cell snatchers: Unravelling plant manipulation by geminiviruses

As obligate intracellular parasites, viruses fully rely on the host cell for their replication and spread. Due to restrictions in genome size, viruses commonly produce a limited number of proteins; this is the case of geminiviruses, plant viruses with circular single-stranded (ss)DNA genomes that are believed to contain only 4-8 translated open reading frames. Strikingly, despite their limited armoury, geminiviruses are able to establish systemic infections, reprogramming the cell cycle, overcoming plant defence, dramatically altering plant development and physiology, manipulating the behavior of their insect vectors, and ultimately causing devastating diseases to crops worldwide. How these viruses successfully invade and manipulate their plant hosts by deploying only a handful of proteins is a long-standing, fascinating question. In our group, we are interested in understanding how geminiviruses co-opt the plant cell and lead to disease, for which we use a combination of approaches, including molecular biology, cell biology, and genetics. Our results have shed light onto the molecular mechanisms underlying the replication of viral DNA, plant anti-viral defence and geminiviral counter-defence, and symptom development, and hint at novel virulence strategies potentially employed by geminiviruses to maximize their coding space and their impact on host functions. We expect that our work will contribute to a deeper understanding of the viral infection, both in plants and other kingdoms of life, which may in turn pave the way to the design of effective and sustainable anti-viral strategies.

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