A new study published in PLOS ONE says that while a plant’s genetic code may be altered by the environment, a plant is only one of many that are susceptible to that environment.
The study, led by ecologist Daniel Bovell, shows that the plant’s environment may be a key factor in its susceptibility to the virus.
“The effect of an environment on plant genome sequence and DNA integrity is unclear, but it may be important in regulating the genetic diversity and fitness of plants in a plant community,” Boveld said in a press release.
“This finding shows that an ecosystem, even a biological one, is not a single point of origin.”
The study was conducted using data from a plant genome project funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The researchers analyzed the genome of the genus Myriophora, which includes many native to the U.S. and Canada, and identified over 4,000 plant species, including over 100 different species of butterfly.
The data was used to compile a database of butterflies and their DNA sequence.
The data was then used to identify the five most common viruses that affect plants, including coronavirus, herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), influenza, and chikungunya.
The scientists then looked at the genomes of butterflies to identify genetic alterations that could affect the virus, which has been linked to more than 6,000 deaths.
To better understand how plant communities evolve, Bovel and his colleagues conducted a genetic study of the Myrioplastia plant community.
They then analyzed the genomes and DNA sequences of a total of 3,722 butterfly species, finding that the Myroplastinae butterflies were the most affected species.
This makes sense given the butterflies’ wide range of host plants and their unique ability to adapt to different host plant species.
The butterflies, Bovall said, are not a simple model system, because there are multiple species, many of which are not even related.
“We have to think more deeply about the diversity of plants, the complexity of plant genomes and how they relate to one another and the evolution of plants,” Bovart said.
“We’re trying to understand how the world works and why certain plants are resilient, and why other plants are more susceptible to virus infection.”
The team is currently studying the genetics of the other plant species in the study, and hopes to determine how the butterfly’s DNA may be linked to other viruses.
The next step in this research is to look at whether or not the butterfly species themselves may be susceptible to the coronaviruses.