Exploring the diversity of plant DNA viruses and their satellites using vector-enabled metagenomics on whiteflies.

PloS One
Terry Fei Fan NgMya Breitbart


Current knowledge of plant virus diversity is biased towards agents of visible and economically important diseases. Less is known about viruses that have not caused major diseases in crops, or viruses from native vegetation, which are a reservoir of biodiversity that can contribute to viral emergence. Discovery of these plant viruses is hindered by the traditional approach of sampling individual symptomatic plants. Since many damaging plant viruses are transmitted by insect vectors, we have developed "vector-enabled metagenomics" (VEM) to investigate the diversity of plant viruses. VEM involves sampling of insect vectors (in this case, whiteflies) from plants, followed by purification of viral particles and metagenomic sequencing. The VEM approach exploits the natural ability of highly mobile adult whiteflies to integrate viruses from many plants over time and space, and leverages the capability of metagenomics for discovering novel viruses. This study utilized VEM to describe the DNA viral community from whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci) collected from two important agricultural regions in Florida, USA. VEM successfully characterized the active and abundant viruses that produce disease symptoms in crops, as well as the less abundant...Continue Reading


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