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Research Update


Geminivirus-associated betasatellites: exploiting chinks in the antiviral arsenal of plants

Source: Institute of Plant Protection

Geminiviruses are a group of plant DNA viruses that infect a wide range of crops worldwide. Betasatellites are a diverse group of circular single-stranded DNA satellites frequently associated with begomoviruses belonging to the family Geminiviridae. In modern times, diseases caused by begomovirus-betasatellite complexes transmitted by the whitefly vector cause extensive yield losses in a broad variety of plants and pose a serious threat to global agriculture and food security. Challenged with a geminivirus-betasatellite infection, plants have evolved diverse innate defense mechanisms to protect themselves. Betasatellites, in turn, employ mechanisms to antagonize these plant antiviral pathways.


Recently, researchers at State Key Laboratory of Plant Diseases and Insect Pests, Institute of Plant Protection of CAAS have published a review on Trends in Plant Science about the defense/counter-defense interplay between the host plant and geminivirus-betasatellite manifesting at genomic, transcriptional, post-transcriptional, and post-translational levels. They focused on the anti-geminiviral immune pathways present both in plants and whiteflies. They also outlined the counter-defensive strategies deployed by betasatellites to overcome the host defenses and initiate a successful infection. Finally, they discussed the outcomes of the opposing forces of plant immunity and betasatellite-mediated antagonism in the context of an evolutionary arms race. Understanding of the molecular dialog between plants and betasatellites will likely allow for the development of novel antiviral strategies.


Figure A model depicting the activation and suppression of plant antiviral immune responses by begomovirus-betasatellite complexes.




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by Yang Xiuling (xlyang@ippcaas.cn)