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The virulence-transmission trade-off in vector-borne plant viruses: a review of (non-) existing studies

Froissart, R.; Doumayrou, J.; Vuillaume, F.; Alizon, S.; Michalakis, Y.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B Biological Sciences 365(1548): 1907-1918

2010


ISSN/ISBN: 1471-2970
PMID: 20478886
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0068
Accession: 056535412

The adaptive hypothesis invoked to explain why parasites harm their hosts is known as the trade-off hypothesis, which states that increased parasite transmission comes at the cost of shorter infection duration. This correlation arises because both transmission and disease-induced mortality (i.e. virulence) are increasing functions of parasite within-host density. There is, however, a glaring lack of empirical data to support this hypothesis. Here, we review empirical investigations reporting to what extent within-host viral accumulation determines the transmission rate and the virulence of vector-borne plant viruses. Studies suggest that the correlation between within-plant viral accumulation and transmission rate of natural isolates is positive. Unfortunately, results on the correlation between viral accumulation and virulence are very scarce. We found only very few appropriate studies testing such a correlation, themselves limited by the fact that they use symptoms as a proxy for virulence and are based on very few viral genotypes. Overall, the available evidence does not allow us to confirm or refute the existence of a transmission-virulence trade-off for vector-borne plant viruses. We discuss the type of data that should be collected and how theoretical models can help us refine testable predictions of virulence evolution.

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