Interactions between viruses, their host plant and their insect vector
We are interested in deciphering these Interactions on the molecular level. Our virus of choice is the Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), a small ssDNA geminivirus, which infects tomato plants. TYLCV is transmit by an insect vector, the whitefly Bemisia tabaci. Using in situ localization, cell fractionation, gene silencing, microarray profiling and metabolome analyses, we are following the fate of TYLCV in the infected susceptible and resistant tomato plants, and in the insect vector. We are discovering the genes and gene networks underlying virus resistance, and the signaling cascades leading to infection and to resistance. We are studying the effect of TYLCV on the whitefly transcriptome, and applying the gene silencing technology to impair the insect development and its ability to transmit viruses.
Virus indexing and plant resistance in the Middle East
We are characterizing the viruses infecting vegetables (potato, tomato), cereals (wheat, barley, maize) and stone fruits (plum) in the Middle East and the Maghreb and selecting for resistant genotypes. We have developed tests based on ELISA, PCR and microarray platforms, allowing to identify and index these viruses. Breeding and selection programs are under way for certain crops to obtain resistant genotypes.