Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

2013

Abstract

For many insect-vectored plant viruses, the relationship between feeding behavior and vector competence may prove integral to an understanding of the epidemiology of the resulting plant disease. While plant-infecting viruses are well known to change host plant physiology in a way that makes them more attractive to vectors, viral manipulation of the vectors themselves has only recently been reported. Previous research suggested that the rapid spread of Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) throughout China has been facilitated by its primary vector, the whitefly Bemisia tabaci. We conducted two experiments testing the impact of TYLCV infection of the host plant (tomato) and vector (B. tabaci biotypes B and Q) on whitefly feeding behavior. Whiteflies of biotypes B and Q both appeared to find TYLCV-infected plants more attractive, probing them more quickly and having a greater number of feeding bouts; this did not, however, alter the total time spent feeding. Viruliferous whiteflies fed more readily than uninfected whiteflies and spent more time salivating into sieve tube elements. Because vector salivation is essential for viral transmission, this virally mediated alteration of behavior should provide TYLCV a direct fitness benefit. This is the first report of such manipulation by a nonpropagative virus that belongs to an exclusively plant-infecting family of viruses (Geminiviridae). In the context of previous research showing that feeding on TYLCV-infected plants harms biotype B but helps biotype Q, the fact that both biotypes were equally affected by TYLCV also suggests that the virus may alter the biotype B-biotype Q competitive interaction in favor of biotype Q.

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