Virology

The main aim of this group is to promote Plant Virology as a subject, both in the UK and overseas through innovative outreaching activities such as organising conferences and workshops and bringing people together for discussions and meetings on recent developments in the area. To this effect, the group organizes a 3-day conference ‘Advances in Virology’ every 18 months mainly aiming to encourage PhD students and early career scientists to take up and/or continue working on plant viruses. We also offer two student-specific competitions at the conference – the Bryan Harrison prize for the best oral presentation and the Raymond and Roger Hull prize for the best poster presentation. 


In order to foster links between UK and overseas plant virologists especially to help grow the number of people working on plant viruses within Europe, the Virology Group Committee includes members from European countries (currently Spain). Please get in touch with the Convenor if you are interested in becoming part of the group.

Convenor

Miguel Aranda

Miguel A. Aranda is a Research Professor at the Department of Stress and Plant Pathology of “Del Segura” Center for Applied Biology (CEBAS) from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) (Spain). He is also a founder and shareholder of the technology-based company Abiopep S.L. Alongside this, he is the Senior Editor for the Plant-Pathogen Interaction area of ​​Annals of Applied Biology and for the Virology area of ​​Molecular Plant Pathology. Since 2009 he has been teaching applied virology in the Master's Degree in Plant Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Murcia (Spain). From 1995 to 1998 he carried out postdoctoral research at John Innes Centre (Norwich, UK). During 2008, 2011-2012 and 2017 he carried out sabbatical stays at John Innes Centre (Norwich, UK), U. C. Berkeley (CA, USA) and U.C. Davis (CA, USA), respectively.

 

Miguel has been working for more than 25 years to understand the biology of plant viruses and how they interact with their hosts. From an applied point of view, his work aims at generating sustainable strategies to control plant diseases induced by viruses, with special emphasis on identifying, characterizing and introgressing genetic resistance to plant viruses in crops. Important contributions of Miguel´s work in this area include the characterisation of resistance genes and resistance mechanisms to viruses in melon, cucumber and tomato.

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Group Members

Sabrina Bertin

Sabrina Bertin is a Research Scientist at Research Centre for Plant Protection and Certification of the National Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA-DC) in Rome, Italy. She is experienced in plant virology and applied entomology, with a main expertise in detection and experimental transmission of viruses and phytoplasmas as well as in biology and genetics of insect vectors. She works in the Plant Virology lab of CREA-DC that deals with the characterization, aetiology and epidemiology of major crop viral diseases and with the production of virus-free plant germplasm through tissue culture. The lab has been appointed European Union Reference Laboratories (EURL) for plant viruses and is equipped for virus detection and quantitation (ELISA, PCR, Real-Time PCR, dPCR).

 

She graduated from the University of Turin (Italy) in 2002 at the Agricultural Biotechnology faculty. In 2007 she obtained her PhD in Cell Biology under the joint supervision of the University of Pavia (Italy) and University of Paris-Sud 11 (France) with a dissertation on the Sterile Insect Technique against fly pests. She worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Turin from 2008 to 2015 on hemipteran vectors of grapevine pathogens. She joined the CREA-DC centre in 2015.

Sophie Bouvaine

Gerard Clover

Gerard is Head of Plant Health in the Royal Horticultural Society in Wisley, Surrey. He is responsible for leading the RHS’s team of plant pathologists and entomologists and developing a programme of research to monitor, identify and control pests and diseases of horticultural plants, answer member enquiries, and disseminate information about pests and diseases.

 

He obtained his PhD in 1997 from the University of Nottingham having studied the interaction of Beet yellows virus and drought on the growth and physiology of sugar beet. He was then employed by the Central Science Laboratory as a post-doctoral scientist to research the biology of and detection methods for soil-borne cereal viruses. In 2001 he moved to New Zealand to work as a virologist in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s reference laboratory (Plant Health & Environment Laboratory) identifying new viruses, viroids and phytoplasmas in quarantine and during surveillance post-border. He subsequently moved into regulatory policy setting the import requirements for imported plants. In 2007 he moved back to the Plant Health & Environment Laboratory to manage the virology team and to set up a quarantine service to enable the importation of agricultural crops. In 2010 he became overall manager of the reference laboratory before moving back to the UK to join the RHS in 2013. His main area of research is the detection, characterisation and management of virus and virus-like diseases.

Andrew Love

Andrew Love is a research leader in Cell and Molecular Sciences at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee, and an honorary senior lecturer at the University of Glasgow. He has interests in understanding how viruses can manipulate plant defence mechanisms and nucleolar machinery to facilitate replication and spread. He also has significant research portfolios in modifying plant virus structures for biotechnological purposes.

Andrew graduated with a PhD in molecular plant virology and followed that with several postdoctoral researcher positions at the University of Glasgow prior to taking up more senior positions at the James Hutton Institute in 2009.

Charlotte Nellist

Charlotte is a Senior Research Scientist focusing on durable disease resistance in the Genetics, Genomics and Breeding Department at NIAB EMR, Kent.

Jens Tilsner

Jens Tilsner is a Lecturer in Plant Molecular Virology at the University of St Andrews and the James Hutton Institute, Dundee. His lab uses cell biology, including RNA in vivo imaging, molecular biology and biochemistry to investigate the mechanisms by which plant viruses spread through their host via intercellular nano-channels (plasmodesmata).

Jens graduated from the University of Bayreuth, Germany in 1999 with a diploma (MSc) in plant ecology. He obtained a PhD in plant biochemistry from the Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany, in 2003. Since moving to Scotland in 2003, he has been working on plant virus cell-to-cell transport, first as a Marie Curie fellow at Edinburgh University and a postdoctoral researcher at the Scottish Crop research Institute (now James Hutton Institute), since 2012 as an independent research fellow in St Andrews. He was obtained a lectureship at St Andrews in 2015.

Trisna Tungadi

Trisna is a postdoctoral researcher in Pest and Pathogen Ecology group at NIAB EMR, Kent. Her current work focuses in investigating the biology and behaviour of spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, which is a major pest for soft and stone fruit production. Prior to joining NIAB EMR, Trisna worked as a postdoc with Professor John Carr at the University of Cambridge from 2014-2019. Her main interest is on investigating how a plant virus is able to manipulate the behaviour of its insect vector, the aphids, and how this may affect virus transmission. Trisna mainly worked with non-persistently transmitted viruses, such as cucumber mosaic virus and bean common mosaic virus. Using Arabidopsis and tobacco as model plants, and common bean as host plants. Trisna was also previously involved in  collaborative projects with smallholder bean farmers in Kenya to reduce the spread of bean infecting viruses in the field.

 

Trisna obtained her PhD in Molecular Virology in 2014 from the University of Cambridge. She graduated from Imperial College London in 2009 with an MSc in Environmental Technology and BSc in Biology. Lastly, Trisna is passionate about capacity building. Since 2017 to date, she has been actively involved with a team of postdocs and PhD students from Cambridge to organise an annual molecular biology laboratory training workshops for young African agricultural researchers in Cambridge and Benin Republic.

Mark Varrelmann

Mark Varrelmann is an Associate professor at the Georg-August University Göttingen (Germany) in the faculty of Agricultural Sciences and teacher for Plant Virology since 2002. He works as the head of the Department of Phytopathology at the Institute of Sugar beet research, Göttingen, focussing mainly on sugar beet (virus) diseases. In addition, he is working as editor for the Journal of Phytopathology and chair of the national working group of Plant Virology of the German phytopathological society.

The research focus is in the field of plant virus reverse genetic systems and their use in plant resistance research to study host-pathogen interactions. Mark graduated in molecular Plant Virology in 1999 from the University of Hannover, Germany.

Jeanmarie Verchot

Jeanmarie is Professor and Fellow of the Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Texas A&M University, USA.

Plant cells have an amazing ability to adapt and survive the impacts of virus infection.  Cellular membranes provide a network for communication with all parts of the cell.  Membranes vesicles transport cargo to various locations within and the cell as well as depositing cargo outside of the cell.  Membranes contain channels for ion signaling and sensors for activating changes in gene expression.  All RNA viruses depend upon cellular membranes as scaffolds for virus replication, encapsidation, and egress.  Creating these scaffolds requires significant rearrangement of cellular membranes.  Our investigations are to understand the cell adaptive machinery to the changes that viruses bring to cells.  We are particularly interested in the cellular adaptive machinery, known as the ER stress machinery, which is well conserved between plants and animals and humans.  The primary goal of our work is to understand how plant virus proteins at the ER manipulate cellular signaling to maintain a cellular environment that is favorable for infection.

John Walsh

John is a Professor in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick. The research on the so-called Turnip mosaic virus (TuMV), led by John and funded under the BBSRC Crop Science Initiative, has been taken forward in a new partnership with Syngenta Seeds. ​Dr Walsh said “TuMV causes really nasty-looking black necrotic spots on the plants it infects - ‘a pox on your’ vegetables! This can cause significant yield losses and often leaves an entire crop unfit for marketing. The virus is particularly difficult to control because it is transmitted so rapidly to plants by the insect vectors” 

John and his team identified the major gene involved in resistance to TuMV and discovered that the way in which it creates resistance is completely new. Using this knowledge, they found that it was possible to identify plants with an inherent resistance that could be used to speed up the breeding process and develop commercial varieties that are resistant to TuMV. The group has a broad range of research projects from Applied, through Strategic to Fundamental, funded from a wide variety of sources. The underlying aim is to provide environmentally friendly sustainable disease control measures whilst at the same time reducing inputs.

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