Plant Viruses

Group leader: Juan José López-Moya

Research project:

Synthetic virus-like particles to interfere with insect-mediated dissemination of plant viruses»

A large proportion of pathogenic plant viruses are transmitted naturally by insect vectors, mainly aphids and whiteflies, in a higly efficient and specific process that can be interfered theoretically through mimicking the implicated viral structures. Ongoing collaborations between our laboratory with professor George Lomonossoff group at JIC allowed us to produce virus-like particles (VLPs) for several viruses (Thueneman et al, 2021, Viruses 13:885), and recently to solve their structures by cryo-EM in the case of helical filamentous particles (Chase et al, 2022, submitted manuscript). These VLPs could be used to intefere with the transmission of potyviruses and ipomoviruses, vectored respectively by aphids and whiteflies. The same concept could be explored with additional viruses from different taxons, including emerging viruses transmitted by whiteflies like begomoviruses within the frame of the EU funded project VIRTIGATION (

Secondments are contemplated for training in VLP technology at JIC, and also at the industrial partner Vytrus Biotech to evaluate alternative plant-based production platforms. The intended training programme will include, among other related disciplines: synthetic biology, protein purification and structure resolution, plant molecular virology, plant-virus-vector interactions, plant pathology and agricultural entomology.

Key publication

Thuenemann EC, Byrne MJ, Peyret H, Saunders K, Castells-Graells R, Ferriol I, Santoni M, Steele JFC, Ranson NA, Avesani L, Lopez-Moya JJ, Lomonossoff GP (2021). A replicating viral vector greatly enhances accumulation of helical Virus-like particles in plants. Viruses 13(5):885.

Potential collaborations with other research groups

John Innes Centre (JIC)

Professor George Lomonossoff Group

Potential collaborations with associated partners

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