Plant community diversity influences vector behaviour and Barley yellow dwarf virus population structure




The species composition of a plant community can affect the distribution and abundance of other organisms including plant pathogens. The goal of this study was to understand the role of host diversity in the transmission of two Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) species that share insect vectors and hosts. Greenhouse experiments measured the transmission rate of BYDV species PAV and PAS from infected oat plants to healthy agricultural and wild grasses and from these species back to healthy oat seedlings. In the field component of the study, the rate of spread of PAV and PAS was measured in monoculture plots planted with agricultural grasses. In greenhouse experiments, the aphid vector more readily transmitted PAV from agricultural grasses and more readily inoculated PAS to the wild grass species assayed. In the field experiment, disease prevalence was greater in wheat, but there was no difference in the rate of spread of PAV and PAS. These results indicate an interaction between vector and host genotype that selects for greater PAV transmission in grain crops, contributes to differences in disease prevalence between grass types, and maintains pathogen diversity within the larger plant community (i.e. agricultural and non-agricultural hosts).