Effect of habitat biodiversity on virus host range evolution

Bisola Babalola / UPM

Project description

My project is aimed at understanding how varying levels of habitat biodiversity influences virus behavior in terms of host range adaptation. As such, some hypothetical questions to consider are: what level of biodiversity (genetic, species, or ecosystem) supports wide host range? Given the current state of commercial agriculture, which favors expansive hectares of monocropping, and very low biodiversity, how does this influence virus incidence and distribution?

It is widely accepted that biodiversity loss will favor both new virus–host encounters and new epidemiological dynamics resulting in virus emergence. However, data is limited to support this, particularly the incidence of plant viruses in wild hosts. This INEXTVIR project hopes to supply data that is lacking and answer the questions above.

This study will provide significant insights on how best to approach issues relating to biodiversity, to reduce the threat that plant viruses pose to agricultural systems.

Here is a video of my Inextvir research in 1 minute

Project goals

1. Develop methods for the comparison of nucleic acid sequences and for the quantification of genetic
variation of viruses according to ecological factors

2. Apply population genetics methods to describe the genetic structure of virus populations according to
host plant and habitat.

3. Use advanced phylogenetic methods to characterise the specialisation of viruses according to host plant species and the migration (inoculums fluxes) among hosts and habitats.