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Exploring the ecological drivers of the pollen virome

Fetters, Andrea M. (2021) Exploring the ecological drivers of the pollen virome. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Pollination is an important mutualism between plants and pollinators that is necessary for the reproduction of the vast majority of flowering plant species. However, antagonists can exploit the mutualism and are vectored between plants by pollinators. For example, some plant viruses reside on the outside or inside of pollen grains and are collectively known as the pollen virome. In the first chapter of my dissertation, I reviewed the previous work with agricultural plants that has illuminated the ways in which these pollen-associated viruses can infect susceptible individuals and explained that still little is known about the diversity of viruses that are associated with the pollen of wild plant species and the ecological drivers (i.e., correlates) that shape the diversity of the pollen virome. To address these fundamental gaps in knowledge, I identified virus, plant, pollinator, and landscape traits that may influence the pollen virome. In the second and third chapters, I used a metagenomics approach and a virus discovery pipeline to identify the known and novel viruses associated with the pollen of wild plant species in a country-level survey focused on four different regions in the United States and a single community-level survey, respectively. In the country-level survey of the second chapter, I showed that plant species with traits mediating increased, intimate interactions with pollinators and pollen grain collectability and plant species growing in regions dominated by human land use harbored more pollen-associated viruses. In the single community-level survey of the third chapter, I again found that plant species with traits arbitrating increased, intimate interactions with pollinators harbored more pollen-associated viruses. In addition, I showed that plant species that interact with diverse pollinator taxa and receive high amounts of pollen from the same (i.e., conspecific) and other (i.e., heterospecific) plant species in the community had more pollen-associated viruses. Together, the chapters of my dissertation uncovered the possible taxonomic breadth of the pollen virome of wild plant species and revealed for the first time that human land use and plant-pollinator and plant-plant interactions are significant ecological correlates of the pollen virome.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Fetters, Andrea M.amf178@pitt.eduamf178
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAshman,
Committee MemberCarson,
Committee MemberPipas,
Committee MemberRichards-Zawacki,
Committee MemberRoossinck,
Date: 8 October 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 May 2021
Approval Date: 8 October 2021
Submission Date: 5 August 2021
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 340
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Biological Sciences
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ecology, Virology, Plant ecology
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2021 20:26
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2021 20:26


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