University of Tübingen – ZMBP
How to conquer a plant using just eight genes: learning from geminiviruses
Molecular basis plant-virus interactions
Viruses, as intracellular parasites, need to subvert the host cell in order to enable viral replication and spread. Due to strict coding limitations, viruses commonly produce a reduced number of proteins; this is the case of geminiviruses, plant DNA viruses that are believed to contain only 4-8 translated open reading frames in their circular single-stranded genome. Strikingly, despite their limited armoury, geminiviruses are able to successfully infect host plants while dramatically altering plant development and physiology, ultimately causing devastating losses to crops worldwide. In our group, we aim to understand how geminiviruses manipulate the plant cell and lead to disease, for which we use a combination of approaches, including molecular biology, cell biology, and genetics. By studying individual viral proteins, 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; in addition, we are interested in the identification of novel virulence strategies potentially employed by geminiviruses to maximize their coding capacity and their impact on the host cell.