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The effects of surface structure mutations in Arabidopsis thaliana on the polarization of reflections from virus-infected leaves

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Neil Boonham



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2017 Maxwell et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The way in which light is polarized when reflected from leaves can be affected by infection with plant viruses. This has the potential to influence viral transmission by insect vectors due to altered visual attractiveness of infected plants. The optical and topological properties of cuticular waxes and trichomes are important determinants of how light is polarized upon reflection. Changes in expression of genes involved in the formation of surface structures have also been reported following viral infection. This paper investigates the role of altered surface structures in virus-induced changes to polarization reflection from leaves. The percentage polarization of reflections from Arabidopsis thaliana cer5, cer6 and cer8 wax synthesis mutants, and the gl1 leaf hair mutant, was compared to those from wild-Type (WT) leaves. The cer5 mutant leaves were less polarizing than WT on the adaxial and abaxial surfaces; gl1 leaves were more polarizing than WT on the adaxial surfaces. The cer6 and cer8 mutations did not significantly affect polarization reflection. The impacts of Turnip vein clearing virus (TVCV) infection on the polarization of reflected light were significantly affected by cer5 mutation, with the reflections from cer5 mutants being higher than those from WT leaves, suggesting that changes in CER5 expression following infection could influence the polarization of the reflections. There was, however, no significant effect of the gl1 mutation on polarization following TVCV infection. The cer5 and gl1 mutations did not affect the changes in polarization following Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) infection. The accumulation of TVCV and CMV did not differ significantly between mutant and WT leaves, suggesting that altered expression of surface structure genes does not significantly affect viral titres, raising the possibility that if such regulatory changes have any adaptive value it may possibly be through impacts on viral transmission.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Maxwell DJ, Partridge JC, Roberts NW, Boonham N, Foster GD

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2017

Volume: 12

Issue: 3

Online publication date: 27/03/2017

Acceptance date: 01/03/2017

Date deposited: 27/06/2017

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0174014


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