Observatorio de I+D+i UPM

Memorias de investigación
Understanding plant-virus coevolution to anticipate virus emergence
Áreas de investigación
  • Fitopatología,
  • Virus patógenos de plantas
Viruses are only second to fungi as plant pathogens, both for the number of diseases they cause and for their economic impact, and it is estimated that about one third of the loses due to pathogens in agricultural production are due to viruses. As is the case for animals, viruses are the major group of emergent plant pathogens, accounting for about 47% of cases of plant pathogen emergence. It has been proposed that the high virulence of viruses in crops is the result of ecological changes associated to agriculture. This hypothesis is based on sparse and circumstantial evidence, as little is known about the virulence of viruses in wild plants and on how, or if, viruses impact wild plant populations: At odds with fungal pathogens, the evolutionary ecology of plant viruses in wild ecosystems has been underexplored. Within this context we are interested in two related aspects of plant-virus interactions that may contribute to understand virus emergence. The first aims at understanding if virus infection acts as a selective pressure on wild plants leading to host-parasite co-evolution, and if co-evolution eventually results in equilibria. The second is aimed to understand what factors, both ecological and evolutionary, may modify plant-virus interactions eventually resulting in virus emergence. If virus infection acts a selective pressure on plants, plants would have evolved defences against viruses. Plant defence against pathogens fall into two major categories, resistance, which results in reduced pathogen multiplication, and tolerance, which results in a reduced impact of infection on the host fitness. The analysis of the variation for defence and tolerance within and among wild plant populations provides evidence that the outcome of the plant-virus interaction is determined by the interaction of the genotypes of both the plant and the virus. Also, the spatial structure of defences suggests that it has not evolved randomly, both types of results indicating plant virus co-evolution. Last, the analysis of virus populations also indicates adaptation of viruses to different hosts, again a result compatible with a hypothesis of plant virus co-evolution and, hence, of viruses being virulent parasites rather than mutualists. We have also analysed if human management of plant populations disrupts the co-evolutionary dynamics and results in virus emergence. We have found that human-driven decreases in biodiversity are associated to increased infection risk. We have also found evidence that anthropisation of the habitat results in the disruption of plant-virus co-evolution and on more virulent infections, expressed as more severe symptoms. Last, we have analysed if adaptation to new host populations as a consequence of these processes is hindered by fitness penalties in the original host. Our results show that this is indeed the case, and that penalties may affect fitness components related or unrelated to the plant-virus interactions itself, underlying the complexity of the evolution of plant-virus interactions.
Entidad relacionada
Sociedad Española de Fitopatología
Nacionalidad Entidad
Lugar del congreso
Esta actividad pertenece a memorias de investigación
  • Autor: Fernando Garcia-Arenal Rodriguez (UPM)
Grupos de investigación, Departamentos, Centros e Institutos de I+D+i relacionados
  • Creador: Grupo de Investigación: Patología Vegetal
  • Centro o Instituto I+D+i: Centro de Biotecnología y Genómica de Plantas, CBGP
  • Departamento: Biotecnología - Biología Vegetal
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