Geometagenomics reveals hidden viruses in biodiversity hotspots

Viruses are elegantly compact microbes that serve myriad roles in ecosystems, but their diversity and influence remains largely uncharted. In this groundbreaking study led by French scientist Philippe Roumagnac, an international team of researchers used deep-sequencing methods to identify plant-associated viruses hidden in vegetation in biodiversity hotspots. The team used geospatial approaches to lay out…

Switchgrass traits influence insect feeding and performance

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a native North American prairie grass that is commonly planted in prairie restorations. It also has potential to serve as a feedstock for cellulosic bioenergy.   A research team led by graduate student Marissa Schuh (MSU Entomology, Landis Lab, now with MSU Extension) found that a common generalist herbivore (fall…

Tracking weed patch dynamics from the air

In semi-arid California grasslands, invasive weedy species such as goatgrass and medusahead can form large patches with dense litter. These patches can expand and suppress more desirable native and forage species unless managed. We developed new remote sensing approaches to map weed patch dynamics in rangelands. Counter to common expectations, we found that weeds were…

Hops: The key to craft brewing

Michigan is the fourth-largest hop producing state in the US. The hops grown here help support a dynamic craft-brewing industry. With support of Project GREEEN, we are working to improve methods of detecting and diagnosing viruses and viroids that can infect hop plants. Apple mosaic virus (ApMV) is one concern. This Ilarvirus in the Bromoviridae…

Viruses are tiny but mighty

Viruses influence ecological systems of all types from polar lakes to bee communities. Remarkable stories about the diversity and power of viruses continue to emerge, with much more to learn. Check out the contributions in this new Advances in Virus Research volume on environmental virology and virus ecology by leading researchers in the field.