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Cambridge Global Food Security

A Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge

Studying at Cambridge

 

Lewis Watt

Lewis Watt

PhD Student, Department of Plant Sciences


Subject groups/Research projects

Plant Biology and Food Security:

Departments and Institutes

Department of Plant Sciences:

Research Interests

The use of intensive monoculture-based agriculture combined with warmer temperatures (allowing insects vectors to spread), has increased the impact viruses have on agriculture. My research investigates how virus-encoded proteins alter the interactions of plants with aphids, the main vector of plant viruses.

Plant immune signalling, initiated by the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), has been shown to induce resistance to aphids. It was suggested that this may have evolved as a strategy for the virus to promote its own transmission. I aim to establish how this virus interacts with host factors in order to trigger aphid feeding deterrence in Arabidopsis.

Identification of host factors involved in virus-induced resistance will be integrated with ongoing efforts in our group to further dissect the complex interaction between CMV, its aphid vector (Myzus persicae) and model host plant Arabidopsis. A greater understanding of the interactions between viral and host factors may aid efforts to engineer or breed virus-resistant crops. At the fundamental level plant viruses provide a useful tool to study pathogen-host interactions.