Plant Virus Ecology Network

An NSF-funded Research Coordination Network

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Plant Virus Biodiversity and Ecology

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Plant Virus Epidemiology Symposium 2013


Welcome to the Plant Virus Ecology Network Web Site

Plant Virus Ecology: a Young Discipline

  • Plant virus ecology, an emerging field,
    • examines the ecological roles of plant-associated viruses in managed and unmanaged ecosystems, and
    • investigates the reciprocal influence of ecosystem properties on the distribution and evolution of plant viruses.
  • It is important because
    • viruses are highly mobile, broadly distributed agents that can cause substantial mortality of wild and crop plants and
    • move genetic elements between hosts-- including potentially between genetically engineered plants and non-target species.
  • While humans have observed the effects of viruses on wild plants for more than a millennium, understanding of viruses as infectious agents has emerged only in the last century and only in the last decade or so have molecular techniques begun to allow detailed examination of patterns of virus diversity and distribution in nature.

Plant Virus Ecology: Need for Coordination

  • Development of plant virus ecology as a field has lagged because of
    • limits in diagnostic tools and
    • historic separations between ecology and virology.
  • The two disciplines developed independently with little intellectual exchange. Thus,
    • many ecologists are unaware of the extent of virus infection in wild plants and
    • many virologists are unfamiliar with methods for examining the ecological consequences of such infection.
  • Accelerating the development of plant virus ecology will allow addressing important societal questions, such as
    • risks of virus-mediated gene flow from GMOs and of recombination between virus-derived trans-genes and endogenous viruses,
    • influence of management practices and ecological factors on virus distribution and emergence of new pathogenic strains, and
    • potential use of plant viruses by bioterrorists.

Research Coordination Network

  • The Plant Virus Ecology Research Coordination Network (RCN) will bring together an initial core of researchers (virological through ecological) currently working on aspects of plant virus ecology in US and international laboratories-a group not previously assembled.
  • Through a series of initial annual meetings, workshops, and mediated discussions, the RCN will evaluate infrastructural needs, prioritize a research agenda, and take steps to expand the emerging community and build long-term support needed for the field.
    • First PVEN Workshop was held in E. Lansing MI 18-21 March 2008.
  • To engage young people and the general public from diverse backgrounds, the RCN will develop a prototype interactive plant virus ecology exhibit and public school outreach programs with a nationally regarded science museum.

Coordinating Committee

Ulrich Melcher, Co-coordinator
Carolyn Malmström, Co-coordinator
Alison Power
Nilsa Bosque Pérez
Denis Fargette

The PVEN is funded by a grant from the US National Science Foundation Grant no. IOS-0639139 May 2007 -May 2012

Interested in joining this effort?

See the PVEN Contact Page.

Please include a description of your interests relative to Plant Virus Ecology. Should you have particular interest in reaching out to the general public, in developing educational materials or in setting priorities for the field, please also communicate those interests.

Last Updated 20 October 2011