Research ArticleVIROLOGY

Viruses mobilize plant immunity to deter nonvector insect herbivores

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Science Advances  21 Aug 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 8, eaav9801
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav9801


A parasite-infected host may promote performance of associated insect vectors; but possible parasite effects on nonvector insects have been largely unexplored. Here, we show that Begomovirus, the largest genus of plant viruses and transmitted exclusively by whitefly, reprogram plant immunity to promote the fitness of the vector and suppress performance of nonvector insects (i.e., cotton bollworm and aphid). Infected plants accumulated begomoviral βC1 proteins in the phloem where they were bound to the plant transcription factor WRKY20. This viral hijacking of WRKY20 spatiotemporally redeployed plant chemical immunity within the leaf and had the asymmetrical benefiting effects on the begomoviruses and its whitefly vectors while negatively affecting two nonvector competitors. This type of interaction between a parasite and two types of herbivores, i.e., vectors and nonvectors, occurs widely in various natural and agricultural ecosystems; thus, our results have broad implications for the ecological significance of parasite-vector-host tripartite interactions.

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