FEMS Journals Poster Prize: Karla Peranić
FEMS Online Conference on Microbiology 2020
The FEMS Online Conference on Microbiology took place between the 28th and 31st of October 2020 as a virtual conference. Her winning poster was titled “Dynamics of Cryphonectria parasitica populations and associated Cryphonectria hypovirus 1 prevelance in north-western Croatia“.
Read our interview with Karla about her research below:
What is your current position and what was your scientific journey to get there?
I started my studies at the Undergraduate study of Biology and later at the Graduate programme at the Faculty of Science in Zagreb where I acquired a Master’s degree in Experimental biology (mag. biol. exp.). Currently, I am a PhD student and I work as a research assistant at the Division of Microbiology at the same institution. Currently I am working on an international project called „Dynamics of virus infection in mycovirus-mediated biological control of a fungal pathogen “. During my studies I have been very interested in viruses and the whole concept of their existence. From an anthropocentric point of view, the idea of something so small that is equipped with the bare minimum of organic matter (to be transmitted and replicated) and yet that it has such a huge effect on our lives is fascinating and I consider myself lucky to be able to glimpse into their world.”
Could you describe the research your poster covered?
The premise of my research was fairly simple. Our team, in collaboration with Swiss partners, has been monitoring the presence of Cryphonectria parasitica, a phytopathogenic fungus and its associated Cryphonectria hypovirus 1 (CHV1) on sweet chestnut trees in North-Western Croatia for several years. So, the isolates that we collected in the field in 2019 were analyzed and compared to previous results. The isolates were collected from two locations (Ozalj and Kašt) and vegetative incompatibility (limiting factor for the transmission of virus) was assessed either by pairing the isolate with EU tester strains or by PCR test. Furthermore, the presence of CHV1, hypovirus that attenuates the disease and thus acts as a natural biocontrol agent, was evaluated using morphological and molecular analyses. The virus seems to be well established but in Ozalj in 2019 we saw that most of the hypovirulent samples were EU1 and EU2. That means that it will be difficult for the virus to spread in other EU types observed in that population because of the aforementioned vegetative incompatibility system. While we have found a numerous EU types in both populations, for now, at least in Kašt, CHV1 is present in a variety of EU types which is conductive for the spread of CHV1 and successful natural biological control of the chestnut blight in that population.”
What do you hope to focus your research on in the future?
Considering the fact that chestnut blight, the disease caused by C. parasitica, is very severe and has already caused a lot of damage, particularly in the eastern North America where it largely eliminated American chestnut as a dominant tree species, I think that it’s important to continue with this kind of research. Therefore, in my future research I want to primarily focus on further investigating the mechanisms of CHV1 transmission, both vertical (through asexual spores) and horizontal (by hyphal anastomosis). I plan to gain more experience in biochemical analyses and in using cutting-edge molecular methods like NGS (Next Generation Sequencing). Overall, I’d like to continue my work on viruses and observing their everlasting impact on ecological processes and the evolution of all living organisms.”
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