FOotSTEP- Identification and FunctiOnal analysis of vector insect genes involved in Transmission SpEcificity of phytoPlasmas
The aim of the Project is to identify genes of insect vectors involved in specificity of phytoplasma transmission mechanisms by verifying their role in vivo through functional analysis. Customized molecular reagents, such as recombinant phytoplasma membrane proteins and specific antibodies, will be produced and characterized. These molecules will be used for the analysis of protein interactions with different species of vectors, allowing to identify the insect proteins involved in the interaction with phytoplasmas. RNA interference (RNAi) technique will be used to silence insect genes coding for the proteins previously identified, to confirm their involvement in the transmission of phytoplasmas. For this purpose, the information obtained by IPSP during other Projects (H2020 VIROPLANT and Siglofit) on transcriptomes of Scaphoideus titanus, natural vector of FD, and of Euscelidius variegatus, experimental vector of the same phytoplasma, as well as RNAi protocols already optimized for E. variegatus will be of fundamental value for this project.