Our current understanding of plant virus diversity and host interactions are largely restricted to viruses isolated from domesticated crop plants. Broader plant virus diversity and the range of interactions with hosts remains unaddressed. However, the development of deep sequencing techniques have allowed for broader sampling and identification of novel plant viruses associated with non-crop hosts than was previously possible with traditional sequencing techniques. In this review, CIDD Professor of Plant Pathology and Biology Dr. Marilyn Roossinck writes an overview of the current known taxonomic range of plant viruses and how improved sequencing-based diagnostic technology of environmental plant viruses have expanded the taxonomic range of plant viruses. Further investigations of environmental virus diversity and specificity with hosts and vectors will be increasingly important for understanding emerging viral threats to agricultural production and how viral infections have shaped plant-host evolution and ecological interactions. The section of Current Opinion in Virology on environmental viruses, edited by Roossinck, contains overviews of other virus systems as well.
Synopsis written by Lori Shapiro.