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Keywords:

  • aphid behavior;
  • aphid nutrition;
  • non-persistent transmission;
  • phytohormone induction;
  • volatile regulation

Abstract

The transmission of insect-vectored diseases entails complex interactions among pathogens, hosts and vectors. Chemistry plays a key role in these interactions; yet, little work has addressed the chemical ecology of insect-vectored diseases, especially in plant pathosystems. Recently, we documented effects of Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) on the phenotype of its host (Cucurbita pepo) that influence plant-aphid interactions and appear conducive to the non-persistent transmission of this virus. CMV reduces host-plant quality for aphids, causing rapid vector dispersal. Nevertheless, aphids are attracted to the elevated volatile emissions of CMV-infected plants. Here, we show that CMV infection (1) disrupts levels of carbohydrates and amino acids in leaf tissue (where aphids initially probe plants and acquire virions) and in the phloem (where long-term feeding occurs) in ways that reduce plant quality for aphids; (2) causes constitutive up-regulation of salicylic acid; (3) alters herbivore-induced jasmonic acid biosynthesis as well as the sensitivity of downstream defences to jasmonic acid; and (4) elevates ethylene emissions and free fatty acid precursors of volatiles. These findings are consistent with previously documented patterns of aphid performance and behaviour and provide a foundation for further exploration of the genetic mechanisms responsible for these effects and the evolutionary processes that shape them.