How Plant Virology Informs Emergence of Zoonotic Viruses Such as SARS-COV-2



The statement by Dimitri Ivanovsky in 1882 that "the sap of leaves infected with tobacco mosaic disease retains its infectious properties even after filtration through Chamberland filter candles" gave birth to a new field of science; Virology. Since that time, and well-beyond the essential goal of crop protection, virology studies conducted in plants have made seminal contributions to science with such landmark demonstrations as the infectious nature of nucleic acids, RNA silencing, and identification of host factors with roles in viral replication and recombination.  This engaging presentation considers how plant virology can inform the most pressing epidemiological concern of our time under the hypothesis that; if plant virology can inform zoonotic virus emergence, then the two should share in common: “outbreak” phenomena (sudden appearance), “spillover” phenomena (transfer from wild to domesticated areas), common genetics (similar types of viruses), reliance on ”vectors” for viral spread, and maintenance of viruses in “reservoir” species.

Learning Objectives:

1. Identify three plant viruses that are genetically similar to viruses that infect humans

2. Identify common vectors and reservoir species for plant viruses

3. Explain how ecology and population biology studies of plant viruses parallel those for zoonotic viruses for informing risk of virus emergence

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