Combining Analysis of DNA in a Crude Virion Extraction with the Analysis of RNA from Infected Leaves to Discover New Virus Genomes.
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This metagenome approach is used to identify plant viruses with circular DNA genomes and their transcripts. Often plant DNA viruses that occur in low titers in their host or cannot be mechanically inoculated to another host are difficult to propagate to achieve a greater titer of infectious material. Infected leaves are ground in a mild buffer with optimal pH and ionic composition recommended for purifying most bacilliform Para retroviruses. Urea is used to break up inclusion bodies that trap virions and to dissolve cellular components. Differential centrifugation provides further separation of virions from plant contaminants. Then proteinase K treatment removes the capsids. Then the viral DNA is concentrated and used for next-generation sequencing (NGS). The NGS data are used to assemble contigs which are submitted to NCBI-BLASTn to identify a subset of virus sequences in the generated dataset. In a parallel pipeline, RNA is isolated from infected leaves using a standard column-based RNA extraction method. Then ribosome depletion is carried out to enrich for a subset of mRNA and virus transcripts. Assembled sequences derived from RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) were submitted to NCBI-BLASTn to identify a subset of virus sequences in this dataset. In our study, we identified two related full-length badnavirus genomes in the two datasets. This method is preferred to another common approach which extracts the aggregate population of small RNA sequences to reconstitute plant virus genomic sequences. This latter metagenomic pipeline recovers virus related sequences that are retro-transcribing elements inserted into the plant genome. This is coupled to biochemical or molecular assays to further discern the actively infectious agents. The approach documented in this study, recovers sequences representative of replicating viruses that likely indicate active virus infection.