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UMR 1332 Biologie du Fruit et Pathologie

Thursday, September 12th 2019 -14h00 - Amphitheatre Colette et Josy Bové - INRA Bordeaux - Thesis Defence - Yuxin MA

"Wild plant species associated viromes: towards improved characterization strategies and variability in various ecological environments”

Yuxin MA

Virology Team

abstract :

Metagenomics based on high throughput sequencing (HTS) has opened a new era of unbiased discovery and genomic characterization of viruses. As for other viruses, such metagenomic studies indicate that the diversity of plant viruses was until recently far underestimated. As potentially important components of unmanaged and cultivated ecosystems, there is a need to explore the diversity of the viruses associated with plant populations and to understand the drivers shaping their diversity in space and time. At the same time, the development of such studies is still faced by methodological questions concerning, for example, the choice of target nucleic acids populations, the reproducibility of the analyses or the implementation of a strategy to accurately compare virus richness in different environments. In the present thesis the phytovirome associated with plant populations sampled in various ecosystems, with an emphasis on wild plant or weed species was characterized using HTS-based metagenomics. In these experiments, the bioinformatic analysis of the virome complexity was performed using two strategies, a classical one based on Blast-based contigs annotation for the identification of the viral families present in a sample and a novel one, described and validated here, and which allows to classify the metagenomic viral sequences into operational taxonomic units (OTUs) as a proxy to viral species. Also from the methodological perspective, the results obtained using complex plant pools such as those used in the “lawn-mower” sampling strategy allowed to compare the performance of the two currently used viral enrichment methods, double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) or Virion-associated nucleic acids (VANA) purification. The results indicate both of approaches uncovered rich viromes and suggest that the dsRNA approach should be preferred when analyzing complex plant pools since it consistently provided a more comprehensive description of the analysed phytoviromes, with the exception of the DNA viruses. The virome characterization results obtained showed, for the temperate plant populations from unmanaged and cultivated sampling sites, a high virus incidence (up to 86.5% in 126 single species pools collected over a two-year period) and confirmed the predominance of dsRNA viruses with greater than 70% of the phytovirome OTUs. While a significant proportion of detected single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) viruses are already known agents, more than 90% of the dsRNA viruses are novel and had not previously been characterized. A large scale culturomics effort to contrast the phytovirome with the mycovirome of fungal cultures obtained from the same plant samples revealed an extremely low number of shared OTUs, further deepening the debate about the phytovirus or mycovirus nature of the dsRNA viruses identified in plant viromes. The OTU composition of the analyzed phytoviromes varied significantly between sampling sites but was also shown to be highly dynamic over time, with a very low proportion of OTUs consistently re-sampled in the same plant population over a 2 years period. Taken together, these exploratory studies allow a more reasoned choice of methodology for the study of plant-associated viromes and expand our knowledge of plant virus diversity especially in neglected wild plant populations, providing important references for the further viral ecology and evolution studies.

Thesis jury :

M. MASSART Sébastien Professeur de l’Université de Liège (Belgique), Rapporteur.
M. ROUMAGNAC Philippe Directeur de Recherche CIRAD, Montpellier Rapporteur.
Mme OGLIASTRO Mylène Directrice de Recherche INRA, Montpellier Examinatrice.
Mme VACHER Corinne Directrice de Recherche INRA, Pessac, Examinatrice.
M. CANDRESSE Thierry Directeur de Recherche INRA, Villenave d’Ornon, Directeur de thèse.