Becky Bart, PhD
Dan Forth Science Center
Becky competed her undergraduate education at Reed College in Portland Oregon before pursuing her doctoral research in the Plant Pathology Department at UC Davis. There she worked with Prof. Pamela Ronald to elucidate genetic components of the rice innate immune response.
Becky then worked as a postdoctoral scholar in Prof. Brian Staskawicz’s laboratory at UC Berkeley to further understand the molecular and genetic interaction between the important food crop, cassava, and its major bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis.
Becky began her own laboratory at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in the Fall of 2013 where she is continuing her work on cassava and expanding her focus to other important Xanthomonas incited diseases.
Gene Editing Approaches to Improving Food Security Crops.
Cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) limits cassava yields in East and Central Africa. CBSD is caused by the potyviruses: Cassava brown streak virus (CBSV) and Ugandan cassava brown streak virus (UCBSV). The viral genome-linked protein (VPg) of many potyviruses interacts with host eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) isoforms during disease. The cassava genome encodes five eIF4E isoforms: eIF4E, eIF(iso)4E-1, eIF(iso)4E-2, novel cap-binding protein-1 (nCBP-1), and nCBP-2. Yeast two hybrid and co-immunoprecipitation protein-protein interaction experiments confirmed that CBSV VPg is able to interact with multiple eIF4E isoforms including nCBP1 and nCBP2. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing was used to create mutations within the coding sequences to generate ncbp-1, ncbp-2, and ncbp-1/ncbp-2 double mutants. Virus challenge showed that ncbp-1/ncbp-2 mutants displayed reduced CBSD symptoms on above and below ground tissues as well as reduced virus titer in the storage roots. These results will be presented along with discussion of how this knowledge and future research will be used to develop an optimized strategy for protecting cassava from CBSD.