Virus-virus interactions in a plant host and in a hemipteran vector: Implications for vector fitness and virus epidemics.
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Mixed virus infection in host plants can differentially alter the plant phenotype, influence vector fitness, and affect virus acquisition and inoculation by vectors than single-virus infection. Vector acquisition of multiple viruses from multiple host plants could also differentially affect vector fitness and virus inoculation than acquisition of one virus. Whitefly-virus pathosystems in the southern United States include both the above-stated facets. For the first facet, this study examined the effects of single and mixed infection of cucurbit leaf crumple virus (CuLCrV, a begomovirus) and cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV, a crinivirus) infecting squash on whitefly (Bemisia tabaci Gennadius MEAM1) host preference and fitness. Mixed infection of CuLCrV and CYSDV in squash plants severely altered their phenotype than single infection. The CYSDV load was reduced in mixed-infected squash plants than in singly-infected plants. Consequently, whiteflies acquired reduced amounts of CYSDV from mixed-infected plants than singly-infected plants. No differences in CuLCrV load were found between singly- and mixed-infected squash plants, and acquisition of CuLCrV by whiteflies did not vary between singly- and mixed-infected squash plants. Both singly- and mixed-infected plants similarly affected whitefly preference, wherein non-viruliferous and viruliferous (CuLCrV and/or CYSDV) whiteflies preferred non-infected plants over infected plants. The fitness study involving viruliferous and non-viruliferous whiteflies revealed no differences in developmental time and fecundity. For the second facet, this study evaluated the effects of individual or combined acquisition of tomato-infecting tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV, a begomovirus) and squash-infecting CuLCrV on whitefly host preference and fitness. Whiteflies that acquired both CuLCrV and TYLCV had significantly lower CuLCrV load than whiteflies that acquired CuLCrV alone, whereas TYLCV load remained unaltered when acquired individually or in conjunction with CuLCrV. Whitefly preference was not affected following individual or combined virus acquisition. Viruliferous (CuLCrV and/or TYLCV) whiteflies preferred to settle on non-infected tomato and squash plants. The mere presence of CuLCrV and/or TYLCV in whiteflies did not affect their fitness. Taken together, these results indicate that mixed infection of viruses in host plants and acquisition of multiple viruses by the vector could have implications for virus accumulation, virus acquisition, vector preference, and epidemics that sometimes are different from single-virus infection or acquisition.