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Front Plant Sci. 2014 Nov 21;5:660. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00660. eCollection 2014.

Crop immunity against viruses: outcomes and future challenges.

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Fruit Biology and Pathology, Virology Laboratory, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, University of Bordeaux UMR 1332, Villenave d'Ornon, France.


Viruses cause epidemics on all major cultures of agronomic importance, representing a serious threat to global food security. As strict intracellular pathogens, they cannot be controlled chemically and prophylactic measures consist mainly in the destruction of infected plants and excessive pesticide applications to limit the population of vector organisms. A powerful alternative frequently employed in agriculture relies on the use of crop genetic resistances, approach that depends on mechanisms governing plant-virus interactions. Hence, knowledge related to the molecular bases of viral infections and crop resistances is key to face viral attacks in fields. Over the past 80 years, great advances have been made on our understanding of plant immunity against viruses. Although most of the known natural resistance genes have long been dominant R genes (encoding NBS-LRR proteins), a vast number of crop recessive resistance genes were cloned in the last decade, emphasizing another evolutive strategy to block viruses. In addition, the discovery of RNA interference pathways highlighted a very efficient antiviral system targeting the infectious agent at the nucleic acid level. Insidiously, plant viruses evolve and often acquire the ability to overcome the resistances employed by breeders. The development of efficient and durable resistances able to withstand the extreme genetic plasticity of viruses therefore represents a major challenge for the coming years. This review aims at describing some of the most devastating diseases caused by viruses on crops and summarizes current knowledge about plant-virus interactions, focusing on resistance mechanisms that prevent or limit viral infection in plants. In addition, I will discuss the current outcomes of the actions employed to control viral diseases in fields and the future investigations that need to be undertaken to develop sustainable broad-spectrum crop resistances against viruses.


PAMP-triggered immunity; R gene; crop improvement; gene silencing; plant virus; recessive resistance; systemic acquired resistance

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