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Increase in Zucchini yellow mosaic virus Symptom Severity in Tolerant Zucchini Cultivars Is Related to a Point Mutation in P3 Protein and Is Associated with a Loss of Relative Fitness on Susceptible Plants

December 2003 , Volume 93 , Number  12
Pages  1,478 - 1,484

C. Desbiez , A. Gal-On , M. Girard , C. Wipf-Scheibel , and H. Lecoq

INRA, Station de Pathologie Végétale, Domaine Saint Maurice, BP94, 84143 Montfavet, France; second author: ARO, Volcani Center, Bet-Dagan, Israel

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Accepted for publication 17 June 2003.

Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV, Potyvirus) is a very damaging cucurbit virus worldwide. Interspecific crosses with resistant Cucurbita moschata have led to the release of “resistant” zucchini squash (C. pepo) F1 hybrids. However, although the resistance is almost complete in C. moschata, the commercial C. pepo hybrids are only tolerant. ZYMV evolution toward increased aggressiveness on tolerant hybrids was observed in the field and was obtained experimentally. Sequence comparisons and recombination experiments revealed that a point mutation in the P3 protein of ZYMV was enough to induce tolerance breaking. Competition experiments were performed between quasi-isogenic wild-type, and aggressive variants of ZYMV distinguished by monoclonal antibodies. The aggressive mutants were more fit than wild-type strains in mixed infections of tolerant zucchini, but they presented a drastic fitness loss in mixed infections of susceptible zucchini or melon. Thus, the ability to induce severe symptoms in tolerant zucchini is related to a genetic load in susceptible zucchini, but also on other susceptible hosts. This represents the first quantitative study of the fitness cost associated with tolerance breaking for a plant virus. Thus, although easily broken, the tolerance might prove durable in some conditions if the aggressive variants are counterselected in susceptible crops.

© 2003 The American Phytopathological Society