Get access

Effect of sugar beet genotype on the Beet necrotic yellow vein virus P25 pathogenicity factor and evidence for a fitness penalty in resistance-breaking strains


Correspondence: Email:


Beet necrotic yellow vein virus (BNYVV), vectored by Polymyxa betae, causes rhizomania in sugar beet. For disease control, the cultivation of hybrids carrying Rz1 resistance is crucial, but is compromised by resistance-breaking (RB) strains with specific mutations in the P25 protein at amino acids 67–70 (tetrad). To obtain evidence for P25 variability from soil-borne populations, where the virus persists for decades, populations with wild-type (WT) and RB properties were analysed by P25 deep sequencing. The level of P25 variation in the populations analysed did not correlate with RB properties. Remarkably, one WT population contained P25 with RB mutations at a frequency of 11%. To demonstrate selection by Rz1 and the influence of RB mutations on relative fitness, competition experiments between strains were performed. Following a mixture of strains with four RNAs, a shift in tetrad variants was observed, suggesting that strains did not mix or transreplicate. The plant genotype exerted a clear influence on the frequency of RB tetrads. In Rz1 plants, the RB variants outcompeted the WT variants, and mostly vice versa in susceptible plants, demonstrating a relative fitness penalty of RB mutations. The strong genotype effect supports the hypothesized Rz1 RB strain selection with four RNAs, suggesting that a certain tetrad needs to become dominant in a population to influence its properties. Tetrad selection was not observed when an RB strain, with an additional P26 protein encoded by a fifth RNA, competed with a WT strain, supporting its role as a second BNYVV pathogenicity factor and suggesting the reassortment of both types.