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SUMMARY

Evolutionary processes responsible for parasite adaptation to their hosts determine our capacity to manage sustainably resistant plant crops. Most plant–parasite interactions studied so far correspond to gene-for-gene models in which the nature of the alleles present at a plant resistance locus and at a pathogen pathogenicity locus determine entirely the outcome of their confrontation. The interaction between the pepper pvr2 resistance locus and Potato virus Y (PVY) genome-linked protein VPg locus obeys this kind of model. Using synthetic chimeras between two parental PVY cDNA clones, we showed that the viral genetic background surrounding the VPg pathogenicity locus had a strong impact on the resistance breakdown capacity of the virus. Indeed, recombination of the cylindrical inclusion (CI) coding region between two PVY cDNA clones multiplied by six the virus capacity to break down the pvr23-mediated resistance. High-throughput sequencing allowed the exploration of the diversity of PVY populations in response to the selection pressure of the pvr23 resistance. The CI chimera, which possessed an increased resistance breakdown capacity, did not show an increased mutation accumulation rate. Instead, selection of the most frequent resistance-breaking mutation seemed to be more efficient for the CI chimera than for the parental virus clone. These results echoed previous observations, which showed that the plant genetic background in which the pvr23 resistance gene was introduced modified strongly the efficiency of selection of resistance-breaking mutations by PVY. In a broader context, the PVY CI coding region is one of the first identified genetic factors to determine the evolvability of a plant virus.