About This Project
Proteins are critical to sustaining life in nearly all organisms, and most pathogens' protein utility is no exception: they use proteins at every part of their life cycle to enter the host’s cells, avoid the immune system, steal resources, and replicate. However, a unique type of pathogen in plants doesn’t make or even code for any proteins; it manages these tasks as a strand of RNA. Viroids are single stranded, circular RNA molecules capable of infecting plants and responsible for disease in many crops (potatoes, peaches, tomatoes, avocados, etc.). Despite this, few ways of combating viroids have been developed, and there is currently no known cure for an infected plant.
We use two plants, Nicotiana benthamiana and Arabidopsis thaliana, to better understand unique pathogens proliferation and disease mechanisms. Our study aims to determine what factors are responsible for viroid host specificity and which host genes are affected by viroid infection. We hope to help find a solution for viroid-induced plant diseases while exploring evolutionary adaptations within host-pathogen interactions.
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