Multiple viral infections frequently are found in single plants of cultivated and wild hosts in nature, with unpredictable pathological consequences. Synergistic reactions were observed in mixed infections in tomato plants doubly infected with the positive-sense and phloem-limited single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) crinivirus Tomato chlorosis virus (ToCV) and the negative-sense ssRNA tospovirus Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV). Synergism in a tomato cultivar susceptible to both viruses resulted in a rapid death of plants. A pronounced enhancement of ToCV accumulation mediated by TSWV co-infection was observed with no evident egress of ToCV from phloem tissues. No consistent alteration of TSWV accumulation was detected. More remarkable was the synergism observed in tomato cultivars which carry the Sw-5 resistance gene, which are resistant to TSWV. Pre-infection with ToCV resulted in susceptibility to TSWV, whereas co-inoculations did not. This suggested that a threshold level or a time lapse is needed for ToCV to interfere or downregulate the defense response in the TSWV-resistant plants.
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