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Can plant viruses manipulate their transmission by insects and influence the evolution of their hosts?

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Virus infection induces changes in plant volatile emission and in the accumulation of insect-deterring compounds in plant tissues. These effects can make plants more or less attractive to insects. Using cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) as a model my group has shown that infection with this virus can affect interactions of host plants with harmful insects, such as the aphid Myzus persicae, which vectors CMV , and with beneficial insects including pollinators like the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris (1, 2). In this talk I will discuss how viral manipulation of vectors can affect the epidemiology of aphid-transmitted viruses and, curiously, how virus-induced modification of plant-pollinator interactions may favour the reproduction of susceptible over that of resistant plants.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Virology Seminars series.

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