Honors Program


Date of this Version

Fall 2021

Document Type



Schufeldt, E. 2021. Developing Turnip Mosaic Virus Mutants to Activate Antiviral Defense in Plants. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Erica Schufeldt 2021.


The exponential increase in the global population compounded by the growing issues associated with mass food production has catalyzed research into the development of new methods of improving agricultural processes and limiting plant disease. In this study we examined stimulating the plant host defense system using a non-replicating virus. By utilizing a single point mutation in the RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase (RDRP) gene in a turnip mosaic virus (TuMV), we were able to determine the effects of RDRP on plant defense systems. With a weak expression of local infection and no indication of systemic infection, it was determined that the RDRP gene did impact viral replication. Our findings of the inability of TuMV-rdrp to trigger systemic silencing and TuMV-AS9 effectively activating antiviral defense in Nicotiana benthamiana suggest that the viral RDRP gene does impact the plant’s ability to activate the systemic silencing pathway.