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Evolutionary Determinants of Host and Vector Manipulation by Plant Viruses.


Plant viruses possess adaptations for facilitating acquisition, retention, and inoculation by vectors. Until recently, it was hypothesized that these adaptations are limited to virus proteins that enable virions to bind to vector mouthparts or invade their internal tissues. However, increasing evidence suggests that viruses can also manipulate host plant phenotypes and vector behaviors in ways that enhance their own transmission. Manipulation of vector-host interactions occurs through virus effects on host cues that mediate vector orientation, feeding, and dispersal behaviors, and thereby, the probability of virus transmission. Effects on host phenotypes vary by pathosystem but show a remarkable degree of convergence among unrelated viruses whose transmission is favored by the same vector behaviors. Convergence based on transmission mechanism, rather than phylogeny, supports the hypothesis that virus effects are adaptive and not just by-products of infection. Based on this, it has been proposed that viruses manipulate hosts through multifunctional proteins that facilitate exploitation of host resources and elicitation of specific changes in host phenotypes. But this proposition is rarely discussed in the context of the numerous constraints on virus evolution imposed by molecular and environmental factors, which figure prominently in research on virus-host interactions not dealing with host manipulation. To explore the implications of this oversight, we synthesized available literature to identify patterns in virus effects among pathogens with shared transmission mechanisms and discussed the results of this synthesis in the context of molecular and environmental constraints on virus evolution, limitations of existing studies, and prospects for future research.

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