Keith Perry

Keith L. Perry
Associate Professor
Department of Plant Pathology

Contact info:
Phone: 607-254-8243
Email: klp3@cornell.edu

See also:

Keith L. Perry, PhD

Department of Plant Pathology

Research Interests

Direction of the Potato Clean Seed Program and the Uihlein Laboratory and Farm

I am responsible for directing a potato clean seed program for New York State that is administered by Cornell University. This is part of a larger cooperative program involving plant breeders, NY State and USDA personnel. The potato growers of New York State require pathogen-free potato seed. Production begins with the in vitro propagation of plantlets and virus elimination, work that is performed in the laboratory in Ithaca. Disease-free plantlets are then propagated and increased at the Uihlein Laboratory and Farm in Lake Placid, New York. At each stage in the operation, plants are screened for pathogens to ensure their certification as clean seed. The research component of this work addresses practices in the maintenance of disease-free potato varieties in tissue culture, virus diseases of potato and the insect vector transmission of viruses.

Research on Cucumber Mosaic Virus and Vector Transmission

My primary area of research is the vector transmission of cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) and related viruses by aphids, the most common type of plant virus vector. The ultimate goal is understand, at the molecular level, how an aphid is able to acquire virus from an infected plant and deliver it to a new site of infection. Most plant viruses are vectored by insects and a characterization of virus-vector interactions is key to a better understanding of how viruses have evolved, their survival in nature and how virus diseases can be controlled. The specificity of interactions between a virus and its vector is determined to a large extent by the properties of the virus capsid protein. I have collaborated to obtain an atomic structure for CMV and this structure is being used to understand how the surface architecture and physical properties of the virus affect and determine its vector transmission. A conspicuous, positively charged loop domain was observed on the surface of virions, and directed mutational analyses have shown that amino acid changes in this loop eliminate or dramatically reduce transmission by aphids. This surface domain is hypothesized to facilitate the binding of virions in the aphid vector. We are using a variety of genetic, biochemical and serological tools and approaches to better understand the physical properties of the virus.

Development of a Multipathogen Detection Technology

I am leading a cooperative effort to develop a multipathogen detection system for diseases of solanaceous crops (potato, tomato, pepper, eggplant). Nucleic-acid based methods are being employed to create macroarrays for the detection of virus, bacteria, fungi and oomycete pathogens. A brief description of the project and participants can be found at: http://www.multipath.ppath.cornell.edu/