Knowledge for a sustainable world

Diversity and evolution of plant DNA viruses: implications of climate change for disease management.

The impact of viral outbreaks on populations has been brought to the forefront in 2020. This threat also pertains to the field of agriculture. Badnaviruses, a highly diverse group of plant DNA viruses, have emerged as serious pathogens infecting a wide range of economically important tropical and temperate crop plants worldwide including grapevine and yam.

The emerging presence of badnaviruses is a major economic constraint to these crops as productivity can be severely compromised causing reduced yields. Further, the international exchange of planting material is impacted and limited due to the possibility of badnaviruses’ genetic information being hidden (‘integrated’) in the host plant genome which complicates their detection and presenting long-term threats particularly in the view of climate change.

My research delves into broadening and extending the knowledge basis of viral evolution, diversity and recombination of emerging DNA viruses. Understanding of the plant virology underpinning agriculture allows the development of efficient and robust novel strategies of disease management.

Primary Supervisor: Goncalo D R Silva
Secondary Supervisor(s): Susan E Seal

Katherine Connor’s history within academic research is rooted in the study of developmental plant biology. Her research interests are keyed towards plant physiology, genetics and currently focused within molecular virology.

Her research interests stem from study at the University of Durham, at which she completed her Bachelor’s degree and Masters by research. Katherine joined the NRI to continue her interest in molecular biology in October 2019 through commencement of full-time study of her PhD. Her research is now rooted in the molecular study of plant virology with focus on DNA viruses within the Yam and Grapevine crops.

Her current research interests lie in the utilising of new high-throughput sequencing technologies and bioinformatics approaches to studying viral recombination in DNA viruses. Further, understanding the implications and relationship of climate change on plant virus diseases and symptom development.

  • Kristine S. Bagdassarian, Katherine A. Connor, Ian H Jermyn & J.Peter Etchells (2019): Versatile method for quantifying and analyzing morphological differences in experimentally obtained images, Plant Signaling & Behavior, DOI: 10.1080/15592324.2019.1693092
  • Wang, Ning, Bagdassarian, Kristine S., Doherty, Rebecca E., Kroon, Johannes T., Connor, Katherine A., Wang, Xiao Y., Wang, Wei, Jermyn, Ian H., Turner, Simon R. & Etchells, J. Peter (2019). Organ-specific genetic interactions between paralogues of the PXY and ER receptor kinases enforce radial patterning in Arabidopsis vascular tissue. Development 146(10): dev.177105.
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