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Plant Virus-Host Interaction
2021, 331-358

Molecular biology of antiviral arms race between plants and viruses

Devendran Ragunathana, Ved Prakasha, R. Vinoth Kumarb

School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.


Plant defense and viral counter defense is a continuous evolutionary arms race. Upon virus infection, RNA silencing (RNAi) acts as the primary line of host-mediated innate defense response in plants. Viruses can trigger the RNAi mechanism through the generation of viral dsRNAs, however they also have evolved ways to suppress RNAi by encoding silencing suppressor proteins called as viral suppressors of RNAi (VSRs). This chapter discusses about the molecular mechanism of RNAi by plants to defend against virus infection and the way the virus-encoded VSRs to counteract this innate defense strategy. One of the potential applications in understanding the molecular mechanisms of RNAi is the generation of transgenic plants that resist virus infections. For several years, transgenic approaches were employed by manipulating this gene silencing machinery to trigger antiviral resistance. Considering the concerns of transgenic methods, several non-transgenic approaches are attempted to fight these viruses.

Keywords: Defense, Counter-defense, RNA silencing, VSR, Immunity, Small RNAs, Silencing suppressor.

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