A pathogen may cause infected plants to promote the performance of its transmitting vector, which accelerates the spread of the pathogen. This positive effect of a pathogen on its vector via their shared host plant is termed indirect mutualism. For example, terpene biosynthesis is suppressed in begomovirus-infected plants, leading to reduced plant resistance and enhanced performance of the whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci) that transmit these viruses. Although begomovirus-whitefly mutualism has been known, the underlying mechanism is still elusive. Here, we identified βC1 of Tomato yellow leaf curl China virus, a monopartite begomovirus, as the viral genetic factor that suppresses plant terpene biosynthesis. βC1 directly interacts with the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor MYC2 to compromise the activation of MYC2-regulated terpene synthase genes, thereby reducing whitefly resistance. MYC2 associates with the bipartite begomoviral protein BV1, suggesting that MYC2 is an evolutionarily conserved target of begomoviruses for the suppression of terpene-based resistance and the promotion of vector performance. Our findings describe how this viral pathogen regulates host plant metabolism to establish mutualism with its insect vector.
Via Kamoun Lab @ TSL