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RapRes: Developing Vectors as Tools to Rapidly and Flexibly Alter Plant Phenotypes

Pictured here from left: Feng Qu, Dave Bisaro, Biao Ding, Dave Mackey, Lucy Stewart, Dave Somers

Not pictured: Eric Stockinger


Plant viruses cause disease and destruction in every food and horticultural plant. However, they also have tremendous potential for beneficial uses in plant production. This has begun to be exploited in various ways, including for custom-protein production in plants, virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) screening, and cross-protection. This team hypothesized that plant viruses can be valuable tools for agricultural improvement in additional ways because of their potential to rapidly alter plant phenotypes. The long-term goal was to develop a rapidly deployable plant modification system, using plant viruses as gene delivery or gene knock-down agents. It was envisioned that this system would allow rapid, flexible, and transient alteration of plant phenotypes. Viruses were used to introduce small RNAs, elicitors, transcription factors, or other sequences at opportune times for the purpose of bolstering plant immunity and/or improving crop yield and quality. A major advantage of this approach is that it does not require the production of independent transgenic plant lines to meet every conceivable need. Rather, it would be possible for growers to respond in "real-time" to biotic or abiotic stresses as they develop, or to effect phenotypic modifications as the need arises. The team focused on development efforts on crops of special significance to U.S. and Ohio agriculture: soybean, maize, wheat, and barley.

Team Members

Strategic Areas

  • Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Crop Improvement