Virus yellow leaf curl tomato got brain damage from insects for their own benefit

Virus yellow leaf curl of tomato (TYLCV) causes degeneration of neurons in its vector — the tobacco whitefly. Insects, whose nervous system is damaged by a virus, stop to avoid healthy plants, while whitefly without virus prefer to feed on already infected people. This helps to maximize the spread of TYLCV. A scientific paper published in eLife.

Plants usually cannot directly send each other viruses, and thus have to use vectors. Often their roles are insects that are eating different parts of plants that absorb and it contained viruses. To the unwitting help of vectors was the most effective, you can change their behavior: for example, to make the most of eating healthy (or, conversely, the infected, depending on stage of infection) of the plant.

Usually such selectivity is achieved through indirect effects: the viruses change the metabolism of plants so that they begin to allocate more insect attracting substances. Examples of when the virus plants directly changed the behavior of insects, is almost unknown. Virus banding of rice and some other interact with the olfactory receptors of insects causing the animals changing and starting to eat mostly healthy plants. This helps to spread the infection further to those who still do not suffer from it.

Song yucheng (Yucheng Sun) and his colleagues from several research institutions of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has discovered another example of the direct influence of plant viruses on the behavior of insects and find out what happens in the nervous system of those infected. The researchers studied the transmission of yellow leaf curl of tomato (tomato yellow leaf curl virus, TYLCV) between tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum, cultivar Moneymaker) by the tobacco whitefly (Bemisia tabaci).

To understand how changing the behavior of whiteflies, they produced batches of 30 pieces in a cube of 40×40×40 cm, where at an equal distance from each other were two infected copy of tomato and two healthy. After 10 minutes, count how many insects will each plant. Those who at this moment appeared on the walls of the cube, noted as not made a choice. Experiments on the selection of plants was performed using a branched glass tubes by type Y-shaped maze in one sleeve showed the smell of the plants infected by TYLCV, in other — healthy, and waited 10 minutes. Like that did with the world: from one sleeve light green (the color of healthy plants), another yellow (the color is caused by a virus of tomatoes).

The presence of virus in the body of the tobacco whitefly was detected after these experiments the DNA (TYLCV — is DNA-containing virus). The condition of the nervous system, primarily in the head ganglia of the insects was determined using fluorescence microscopy. The preparations of slices of the brain (which, however, are not homologous to the brain of vertebrates) was added to the liquid with a fluorescent antibody to different proteins in the composition of neurons.

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