The NIa‐Pro protein of Turnip mosaic virus improves growth and reproduction of the aphid vector, Myzus persicae (green peach aphid)
Many plant viruses depend on aphids and other phloem‐feeding insects for transmission within and among host plants. Thus, viruses may promote their own transmission by manipulating plant physiology to attract aphids and increase aphid reproduction. Consistent with this hypothesis, Myzus persicae (green peach aphids) prefer to settle on Nicotiana benthamiana infected with Turnip mosaic virus (TuMV) and fecundity on virus‐infected N. benthamiana and Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) is higher than on uninfected controls. TuMV infection suppresses callose deposition, an important plant defense, and increases the amount of free amino acids, the major source of nitrogen for aphids. To investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms of this phenomenon, 10 TuMV genes were over‐expressed in plants to determine their effects on aphid reproduction. Production of a single TuMV protein, nuclear inclusion a‐protease domain (NIa‐Pro), increased M. persicae reproduction on both N. benthamiana and Arabidopsis. Similar to the effects that are observed during TuMV infection, NIa‐Pro expression alone increased aphid arrestment, suppressed callose deposition and increased the abundance of free amino acids. Together, these results suggest a function for the TuMV NIa‐Pro protein in manipulating the physiology of host plants. By attracting aphid vectors and promoting their reproduction, TuMV may influence plant–aphid interactions to promote its own transmission.
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