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Multiscale aspects of vector transmission of plant viruses: from landscapes to coinfections

Alison Power: Cornell University

<div><em>Potato virus Y</em> (PVY) is one of the most serious pathogens of potato crops globally, reducing both yield and quality. Highly damaging recombinant virus strains have emerged in recent decades, adapted rapidly to potato ecosystems, and dominated virus populations over extensive geographical areas. Our research is focused on understanding the ecological factors that allow recombinant virus strains to emerge, spread rapidly, and become dominant. We find that landscape composition and structure, vector community composition, transmission dynamics, and within-host processes all influence the epidemiology of both the ordinary strain (PVY<sup>O</sup>) and recombinant strains such as PVY<sup>NTN</sup>. At the landscape scale, recombinant strains and overall PVY incidence are positively associated with row crops in the landscape around a farm and negatively associated with forested habitats. PVY incidence is positively correlated with landscape fragmentation and total edge between habitat types, but negatively correlated with higher diversity of habitat types in the landscape. Vector abundance and species richness also vary significantly with landscape composition. At the host scale, recombinant viruses typically dominate in mixed infections and are more successful in vertical transmission through infected tubers. Taken together, these findings improve our understanding of the widespread dominance of recombinant PVY strains.</div>

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