My project will try to understand the existent virus diversity within carrot crops and the consequences of their infection in terms of crop damage that leads to wastage; ultimately aiming to scale up the methods for large virome studies to increase capacity for generating field relevant understanding of presence and diversity of viruses within cropping systems, including crops and surrounding environments containing potential weed and vector reservoirs. At the moment, there is a lack of knowledge about the flow of viruses between carrot crops and wild umbelliferous species, as well as which vectors are responsible for their transmission (most probably aphids).
Essentially, this project will reveal the extent of the ecological network between viruses, hosts and vectors. For this purpose, representative samples of the different elements in the system will be collected and using the most appropriate NGS approaches and protocols, identifiy and characterise the presence of new and known viruses. Another relevant aspect will be the characterization of the newly found viruses: (i) full genome and molecular characterization, (ii) epidemiological characterization and (iii) biological characterization. With the establishment of standard protocols for the characterisation of new viruses and their genome sequences, this project will aim to answer several hypotheses:
- Which is the relationship of the virus presence with the observed symptoms?
- Which effect are viruses having over the production yields?
- Which transmission mechanisms do they use?
- Which is their level of pathogenicity?
- Are they beneficial or neutral to nature?