A special issue of “Plants”

Dr Giuseppe Parrella, a researcher at the IPSP, is one of the guest editors of the special issue “Biological and Molecular Variability of Plant Viruses” of the prestigious journal “Plants“.

In recent years, epidemics caused by viruses and virus-like organisms have increasingly occurred in many economically important crops. Global market and ongoing climate changes are today among the main factors capable of influencing the epidemics of viral diseases both in cultivated species and in natural vegetation. The presence of genetic variants in any viral population gives it the ability to adapt quickly to new conditions and to explode if the context becomes favorable. For example, the use of resistant varieties over time has exerted a selection pressure which has been decisive for the selection of virus variants capable of overcoming resistance. In other cases, the accidental introduction of infected plant material or viruliferous vectors into new favorable agroclimatic contexts has favored the explosion of epidemic viral diseases. An important number of virus infections and their epidemic developments demonstrate that ineffec­tiveness of prevention measures is often due to the mutation rate and variability of viruses. Mutation is undoubtedly the primary source of variation, and several reports in the literature suggest that extreme variability of some viruses may be a consequence of an unusually high mutation rate due to addition, deletion, inversion of nucleic acid base sequences, recombination, suppression, re-assortment and mixed infection that lead to evolution of different strains and new viruses. The distribution of genetic variants in the population of an organism may change with time, in the process called evolution. Investigating the factors affecting the diversity levels of viral populations can undoubtedly provide significant clues for the development of efficient and stable control strategies for viral pathogens.

This Special Issue of “Plants” will focus on recent discoveries and studies of plant virus variability and evolution of old and new viruses, in both cultivated and natural vegetation, with special reference to the effects on virus variability caused by factors such as the host, vector, geographical origin, and environmental factors.

More information can be found on the website