First author: Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843-2123; and second author: Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27695-7616
Pathogen- and host-derived resistance have been shown to suppress infection by many plant viruses. Tomato spotted wilt tospovirus (TSWV) is among these systems; however, it has easily overcome nearly all host resistance genes and has recently been shown to overcome resistance mediated by the TSWV N gene. To better understand the resistance-breaking mechanisms, we have chosen TSWV N gene-derived resistance (TNDR) as a model to study how plant viruses defeat resistance genes. A defined viral population of isolates TSWV-D and TSWV-10, both suppressed by TNDR, was subjected to TNDR selection by serial passage in an N-gene transgenic plant. The genotype analysis demonstrated that the mixed viral population was driven to form a specific reassortant, L10M10SD, in the presence of TNDR selection, but remained as a heterogeneous mixture in the absence of the selection. A genotype assay of 120 local lesion isolates from the first, fourth, and seventh transfers confirmed the shift of genomic composition. Further analysis demonstrated that the individual L10, M10, and SD RNA segments were each selected independently in response to TNDR selection rather than to a mutation or recombination event. Following the seventh transfer on the N-gene transgenic plants, TSWV S RNA remained essentially identical to the S RNA from TSWV-D, indicating that no intermolecular recombination occurred between the two S RNAs from TSWV-10 and TSWV-D nor with the transferred N gene. These results support the hypothesis that TSWV utilizes genome reassortment to adapt to new host genotypes rapidly and that elements from two or more segments of the genome are involved in suppression of the resistance reaction.