National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
University of the Philippines, Diliman

National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

Vermando M. Aquino, Ph.D.



PhD Plant Pathology, University of Florida, FL USA

MS Plant Pathology, University of the Philippines, Los Baos, Philippines

BS Botany, University of the Philippines, Los Baños, Philippines




Understanding Viruses in the Phytobiome

The Plant Molecular Biology and Plant Virology Laboratory (PMBPVL) was established in 2004 as a research laboratory focusing on plant pathology, plant-virus interactions, viral diversity, and plant transformation using biolistic (particle gun) and Agrobacterium-mediated techniques.

The current research interests engaged by the PMBPVL include detection and characterization of various families of plant viruses such as Potyviridae and Nanoviridae, with the aim of utilizing them for future biotechnological applications. Work is also being focused on viruses that infect abaca, a Philippine indigenous plant related to banana that is valued internationally for its fiber. 

In collaboration with the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) and funded by the Department of Agriculture’s DA-Biotech Program, the lab has also sequenced the abaca (var. Abuab) genome, with a focus on identifying genes that could be associated with fiber quality, pathogen resistance, and drought and salinity tolerance, among others.

Research Area

  1. Molecular characterization and in silico analysis of the NSP Interacting Kinase 1 (NIK1) gene from abaca (Musa textilis Nee)
  2. Molecular characterization of Nanoviruses and other single stranded DNA viruses in the Philippines.
  3. Preliminary investigations on induced resistance against viral diseases of abaca (Musa textilis Nee)
  4. Molecular characterization and elucidation of genes associated with fiber quality, pathogen resistance, and abiotic response in abaca.
  5. Validation and in silico functional analysis of agronomically important genes identified from the draft abaca genome assembly

Selected Publications

Galvez LC, Koh RBL, Barbosa CFC, Asunto JC, Catalla JL, Atienza RG, Costales KT, Aquino VM, Zhang D. Sequencing and de Novo Assembly of Abaca (Musa textilis Née) var. Abuab Genome. Genes (Basel). 2021 Aug 2;12(8):1202. doi: 10.3390/genes12081202. PMID: 34440376; PMCID: PMC8392402.

LC Galvez, CFC Barbosa, RBL Koh, VM Aquino. Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assays for the detection of abaca bunchy top virus and banana bunchy top virus in abaca. Crop Protection. 2020; 131. doi: 10.1016/j.cropro.2020.105101.

RBL Koh, FADLC Zaulda, CFC Barbosa, VM Aquino, LC Galvez. Immunodiagnosis of bunchy top viruses in abaca with polyclonal antibodies against their recombinant coat proteins, Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection. 2020. doi:10.1080/03235408.2020.1727106.

LC Galvez, RBL Koh, CFC Barbosa, VM Aquino. Multiplex reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction for simultaneous detection of banana bract mosaic virus (BBrMV) and sugarcane mosaic virus (SCMV) in abaca, Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology. 2020. doi:10.1080/07060661.2019.1708810.