Group of Molecular Characterization of Plant Viruses - Introduction

grupo carmeloThe molecular characterization of plant viruses group was created in 2001. We are working with viruses that cause serious economical losses in tomato and pepper crops. Specifically, our interest is focused in studying the mechanisms that generate and maintain the genetic variability of RNA viruses; in developing rapid, sensitive and reliable diagnostic methods for viruses detection; and in developing new control methods.

Among the viruses that we are currently working on, we would like to highlight the tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV). The effective control of TSWV has only been achieved by breeding tomato and pepper cultivars with the resistance genes Sw-5 and Tsw, respectively. However, resistance breaking TSWV isolates were detected in these cultivated species a few years ago.

To obtain a more durable and effective protection, several factors are being studied such as virus genetic diversity, evolutionary and epidemiological aspects (host range, fitness, etc.) related to the new resistance-breaking isolates, and the genetic determinants involved on resistance breaking. In conclusion, our purpose is to develop control strategies with the tools presently available and gain insight into the factors involved in the interaction between plant (defense, resistance) and virus (virulence, evolution, resistance breakdown), which will enable us to design of better control strategies based on interfering RNAs and artificial microRNAs.