Improving virus resistance in Texas potato
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Potato is the world's third largest food crop but yields are badly damaged by potyvirus and potexvirus infections. There is an urgent need in potato to advance the knowledge of genes responding to virus disease. Our overarching, long- term goal is to improve potato resistance to potyvirus and potexvirus infection. Currently, there is a significant knowledge gap of how the cellular stress machinery recognizes and responds to virus infection. Current research has shown that the potato virus X and Y viruses encode small membrane binding proteins that modify the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membranes and activate a key ER stress response pathway. This pathway is called the IRE1/bZIP60 pathway and is a central hub for responses to adverse environmental challenges 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 (4, 8). This pathway is know to control the expression of genes to increase tolerance to virus infection, heat and osmotic stress. This proposed research tests a model in which ER stress sensors and are engaged to provide cellular protection against virus infection.