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A transnational collaboration leads to the characterization of an emergent plant virus

In the 21st century, 'collaboration' has become a popular buzzword, but effectively working together across disciplines and countries is easier said than done. However, authentic collaboration is critical to the fight against plant pathogens; sharing information on plant diseases facilitates early detection, efficient and rapid characterization, and subsequent management.

Physostegia chlorotic mottle virus (PhCMoV), a plant disease first identified in Austria in 2018, initially received inadequate characterization. This then sparked studies across Europe as new symptoms emerged on economically important crops. These independent studies converged into one study, published in Plant Disease, demonstrating the power of collaboration beyond a mere buzzword.

In the coalescent study, Coline Temple and colleagues from eight laboratories across five European countries utilized prepublication sharing of high throughput sequencing (HTS) data to improve knowledge on PhCMoV biology, epidemiology, and genetic diversity.

The researchers identified PhCMoV in eight European countries, in addition to Austria, and confirmed its presence in samples collected in 2002. Mechanically inoculating PhCMoV to healthy host plants in control conditions enabled the authors to validate the association of the virus with symptoms. Their results show that PhCMoV can infect at least nine plant species and cause severe fruit symptoms on economically important crops such as tomato, eggplant, and cucumber.


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