Water as an important indicator of circulating plant viruses

Olivera Maksimovic / Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School

Project description

Water as a resource is one of the mail pillars of agriculture. It is essentially impossible to produce without it. In the current state the importance of delivering good quality water is growing more and more important as we are driven to reuse are recycle as much of it as possible. At the moment water processing facilities are predominantly focused on human bacteriological pathogens with viruses still not being thoroughly addressed. Amongst them plant pathogens are not very high on the list as there is still little evidence of the consequences of irrigation with un-pure water brings. It is yet to be completely proven to which extent water serves as a transmission route in natural conditions. We believe that this needs to be changed and that more information and solid conclusions are needed in this field, so we could provide better regulation and plant protection systems.

Project goals

Main objective of the research project is to assess the role of the water as a disease transmission pathway by scanning and characterizing plant viruses present in environmental waters close to crop sites (such as irrigation waters or wastewater routes) by NGS approach and CIM monolithic chromatography concentration methods. Building on top of this knowledge will allow defining the ecological role of discovered viruses by putting them into connection with samples of agricultural plants and weeds in the vicinity of the sampling site and comparing the obtained viromes.

As the result, we expect to be able to see the wide picture of all viruses that are circulating in the water environment of the chosen location and then apply this approach to a wider territory. Successful accomplishment will also provide us with a novel screening protocol that can be implemented in the areas that are considered under risk (e.g. Close proximity of wastewater or clusters of farms with direct discharge in the water ecosystem). Long-term research will give us new insights into the role of water as a vector within and between habitats.