Effect of habitat biodiversity on virus host range evolution

Bisola Babalola / UPM

Project description

Based on HTS data, plant-virus interactions will be analysed in a set of about 30 plant species and about 10 viruses, to identify preferred hosts for specific viruses (the first sign of potential adaptation to different hosts). Sequence analyses of the genomes of specific viruses infecting different hosts in different habitats will inform on the degree of virus genetic structure according to host (indicating adaptation or lack of adaptation to the different hosts) and how
inoculum fluxes promote or hinder virus adaptation to hosts. Across-host trade-offs will be analysed and data predictions will be made on the potential of each virus species to evolve as an emergent pathogen.

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.