Differential gene expression and physiological changes during acute or persistent plant virus interactions may contribute to viral symptom differences

Réka Pesti, Levente Kontra, Kenny Paul, Imre Vass, Tibor Csorba, Zoltán Havelda, Éva Várallyay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Viruses have different strategies for infecting their hosts. Fast and acute infections result in the development of severe symptoms and may cause the death of the plant. By contrast, in a persistent interaction, the virus can survive within its host for a long time, inducing only mild symptoms. In this study, we investigated the gene expression changes induced in CymRSV-, crTMV-, and TCV-infected Nicotiana benthamiana and in PVX- and TMV-U1-infected Solanum lycopersicum plants after the systemic spread of the virus by two different high-throughput methods: microarray hybridization or RNA sequencing. Using these techniques, we were able to clearly differentiate between acute and persistent infections. We validated the gene expression changes of selected genes by Northern blot hybridization or by qRT-PCR. We show that, in contrast to persistent infections, the drastic shut-off of housekeeping genes, downregulation of photosynthesis-related transcripts and induction of stress genes are specific outcomes with acute infections. We also show that these changes are not a consequence of host necrosis or the presence of a viral silencing suppressor. Thermal imaging data and chlorophyll fluorescence measurements correlated very well with the molecular changes. We believe that the molecular and physiological changes detected during acute infections mostly contribute to virus symptom development. The observed characteristic physiological changes associated with economically more dangerous acute infections could serve as a basis for the elaboration of remote monitoring systems suitable for detecting developing virus infections in crops. Moreover, as molecular and physiological changes are characteristics of different types of virus lifestyles, this knowledge can support risk assessments of recently described novel viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0216618
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 3 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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