Investigating how the cellular ER stress machinery regulates plant virus infection
This research uses cultivated potato, which is the world''s third largest food crop after wheat and rice. While most crops grow from true seeds, potatoes are vegetatively propagated and multiplied for several years in the field. Without proper management, disease incidence in potato can rise to devastating levels within a few years. PVX and PVY are significant viruses that gravely impact potato yield and marketability, and economically impact producers. The global spread of necrotic PVY strains has created new challenges for producers. There is an urgent need to advance the knowledge of genes in potato responding to virus disease. The overarching, long- term goal is to improve potato resistance to PVX and PVY infection. This research will uncover the mechanisms of how plants can respond to virus stress and adapt to challenging environments. This research will investigate a key set of stress response genes that protect plants against drought and virus infection. This research will also explore how a set of proteins known as BiPs suppress disease and determine how these can be used to provide protection against virus infection. We will use this information to improve potato production strategies and effective breeding practices.The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a central hub for responses to adverse environmental challenges in plants such as virus infection, heat, chemical, osmotic, and salt stress. The physiological consequences of prolonged low-level ER stress include constrained plant development and productivity, whereas chronic stress can result in death and crop losses. Three well known monitoring/sensing pathway use the transcription factors bZIP60, bZIP28 and/or bZIP17 to activate cellular adaptive responses. They coordinate the transcription of molecular chaperones, including the ER lumen binding protein (BiP). It is well known that Arabidopsis plants overexpressing certain BiP isoforms display greater tolerance to virus infections and heat and osmotic stresses. The central hypothesis motivating the project is that bZIP60, bZIP28, and bZIP17 differentially up-regulate expression of BiP isoforms that ameliorates ER stress and cell death regulation in solanaceous plants, such as potato and tobacco. The research team will test a model in which ER stress sensors and BiP isoforms are engaged in N. benthamiana and potato to provide cellular protection against virus infection.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.