ERC Consolidator Grant for biochemist’s work on geminiviruses
Rosa Lozano Durán aims to generate a comprehensive map of virus-host cell interactions
Professor Dr. Rosa Lozano Durán from the Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP) at the University of Tübingen has successfully applied for a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). The project "Emerging multifactorial complexity at the geminivirus-host interface" (GemOmics) aims to develop a complete overview of the molecular and functional landscape of plant-geminivirus interactions. This may help to find new ways to combat and contain these plant viruses that cause diseases in crops worldwide. The project is funded by the ERC with a sum of around two million euros for a period of five years, starting in July.
Viruses manipulate their host cells to replicate and spread. This manipulation is based on the activity of virus-encoded proteins, limited due to restrictions in genome size imposed by the viral cycle. How the action of these few proteins results in the massive cell reprogramming observed during the infection remains enigmatic. Recent results obtained in the Lozano Durán lab using the geminivirus tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) indicate that the proteome of this species, so far believed to encompass 6 proteins, is far more complex: The TYLCV genome contains additional open reading frames expressed during the infection and giving rise to new proteins, and viral transcripts are spliced and generate new protein variants. Therefore, the number of viral proteins exceeds double that previously expected. In addition, research in the Lozano-Durán´s lab found that this higher complexity is further increased by the association of viral proteins in an intricate network of intra-viral interactions, which enable novel protein localization and function. This is leading to an expansion of their interactome and functional spaces. These results imply that, to get a complete overview of the molecular and functional landscape of plant-geminivirus interactions, the strategies traditionally used, based on the analysis of a limited number of viral proteins in isolation, need to be revisited. Here, Rosa Lozano Durán and her team propose to apply a combination of genomic, interactomic, and functional approaches to generate a comprehensive map of the virus/host cell intersection with unprecedented resolution. In the ERC project, they will perform a comparative analysis of different geminivirus species and translate these emerging concepts to independently evolved viral families. The conceptual and practical enlargement of the virus/host interface elucidated in this project has the potential to re-shape the theoretical framework and experimental approaches in the study of virus/host interactions. This may open up new perspectives to fight geminivirus-caused crop diseases.
Rosa Lozano-Durán studied biology at the University of Málaga. She received her PhD from the University of Málaga in 2010. From 2011 to 2015, she was a postdoctoral researcher at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich. She then moved on the Shanghai Center for Plant Stress Biology, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, where she was an independent research group leader from 2015 to 2021. In 2021, Lozano-Durán has taken up the professorship of Biochemistry of Plant Systems at the University of Tübingen’s Center for Plant Molecular Biology. In addition, she has been an associate professor at the Institute of Plant Protection of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences since 2017.
The ERC Consolidator Grants are awarded to researchers with seven to twelve years of experience after the completion of their PhD and a scientific track record showing great promise and new ideas for the respective discipline. The grantees are expected to establish their own research team. Applications can be made in any field of research.
Maximilian von Platen and Dr. Tina Schäfer