Plant viruses are a significant threat to global food security, and the majority of viruses that infect plants are transmitted from one host to another by arthropod vectors. Our research aims to understand the molecular and ecological interactions between viruses, vectors, and plants that result in virus transmission. Circulative viruses enter the vector body and disseminate to various tissues prior to their transmission to plant hosts. A specific viral protein(s) is required for attachment and/or entry into the insect vector. Due to the specificity of virus transmission by vectors, there are distinct steps in the transmission process that represent good targets for strategies to disrupt the disease cycle. Virus-interacting proteins and proteins that respond to virus infection provide potential targets for disruption of transmission and/or for silencing by RNAi.
The products of this fundamental and applied research are expected to enable the production of a safe, sustainable, and more secure food supply.