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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Pierce, Florida » U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory » Subtropical Plant Pathology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #347917

Research Project: Mitigating High Consequence Domestic, Exotic, and Emerging Diseases of Fruits, Vegetables, and Ornamentals

Location: Subtropical Plant Pathology Research

Title: Using tobamoviruses for phylogenetic instruction in undergraduate biology courses

item FILLMER, KORNELIA - Indian River State College
item Adkins, Scott
item PONGAM, PATCHARA - Indian River State College
item D'ELIA, TOM - Indian River State College

Submitted to: American Society for Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/14/2018
Publication Date: 5/25/2018
Citation: Fillmer, K., Adkins, S.T., Pongam, P., D'Elia, T. 2018. Using tobamoviruses for phylogenetic instruction in undergraduate biology courses. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education.

Interpretive Summary: Microbial diversity and taxonomy instruction provide an ideal opportunity to introduce students to basic bioinformatics skills. There are many ways to illustrate evolutionary relationships between microorganisms using phylogenetic trees. Thought must be given to the method of presentation used in class because interpreting complex trees can be quite challenging for students. Here we present a simple activity that teaches the fundamental bioinformatics skills of multiple sequence alignments and phylogenetics by using Tropical soda apple mosaic virus and other tobamoviruses that produce trees that are easy to interpret.

Technical Abstract: Tobamoviruses are important agricultural pathogens and have well defined phylogenetic groupings that correspond to the phylogenetic groupings of host plant families. This clear pattern illustrates the coevolution of the virus and host, and makes interpreting relationships based on these trees very straightforward. The organization of the trees also indicates related plants that a given virus may potentially infect, making this type of analysis useful for developing measures to limit spread and minimize economic impacts. The simplicity of the analysis, coupled with the real-world application in agricultural science, helps actively engage students in a topic that is challenging to learn.