Pathogenic viruses of bees and aphids: Are plants a common reservoir?

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Plant Sciences


Years 1-2 Exploit the biodiversity of Wisley and other RHS sites and Cambridge University Botanic Garden to discover examine the diversity of dicistroviruses in plants, aphids, bees (honeybees and many bumblebees and solitary bees), and aphid-associated insects (aphid-farming ants, parasitoid wasps, ladybirds). Methods will include reverse transcription PCR with dicistrovirus-specific primers to detect and sequence dicistroviruses present. Establish cultures of aphid-pathogenic dicistroviruses (Years 1-2) We will establish dicistrovirus-carrying aphid and plant populations from aphids surveyed in WP1A. Dicistroviruses pass horizontally between aphids, through plants, or vertically to offspring (Ban et al. 2007, 2008), facilitating the establishment of infected stocks. Year 3 - Analyse effects of dicistroviruses on aphid performance, behaviour, survival and interactions with host plants and transmission of plant viruses We will identify viral sequences controlling the ability of aphid-pathogenic dicistroviruses to cause disease in insects and exploit plants as reservoirs. If Arabidopsis is a reservoir (WP2A) we will identify plant genes conditioning dicistrovirus residency using either unbiased screens of mutagenized populations, or focusing on specific genes known to support virus movement (Chang et al. 2016).


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007164/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2027
2439642 Studentship NE/S007164/1 30/09/2020 31/03/2024 Amy Smith