2005-2009: Oklahoma NSF EPSCoR Plant Virus Biodiversity & Ecology

Oklahoma NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Award

Viruses are associated with almost every known organism, from eubacteria to archaebacteria to eukaryotes.  They are as diverse as the hosts with which they are associated.  Yet, we have discovered only a small fraction of this diversity.  The biodiversity and abundance of viruses suggests an important role for viruses in our ecosystems.  To explore this role, we will uncover information beyond the mere discovery and cataloging of viral sequences. We will discover the diversity and identity of viruses in natural ecosystems concentrating on the Nature Conservancy’s 39,000-acre Tallgrass Prairie Preserve located in northeastern Oklahoma.  We will explore virus-host associations, their geographic distributions, how these change with time, and the principles that govern these associations and distributions.  A thorough understanding of virus biodiversity in an ecological context will allow profound advances in our understanding of the ecology of both viruses and higher organisms.  Viruses of plants and their associated microbes, the endophytes, are ideal for such exploration.  Plant virus biodiversity and ecology of natural systems has its central hypothesis:  The distributions and evolutionary patterns of viruses are determined by complex environmental interactions among many factors including distributions of hosts, vectors, other viruses and climatic variation.

Read more about the 2005-2009 OK EPSCoR RII Award