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Plant-mediated whitefly–begomovirus interactions: research progress and future prospects

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 February 2014

Jun-Bo Luan
Ministry of Agriculture Key Laboratory of Agricultural Entomology, Institute of Insect Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China
Xiao-Wei Wang
Ministry of Agriculture Key Laboratory of Agricultural Entomology, Institute of Insect Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China
John Colvin
Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Kent ME4 4TB, UK
Shu-Sheng Liu*
Ministry of Agriculture Key Laboratory of Agricultural Entomology, Institute of Insect Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China
* Author for correspondence Phone: +86 571 88982505 Fax: +86 571 8898235 E-mail:


Plant-mediated interactions between begomoviruses and whiteflies exert important influences on the population dynamics of vectors and the epidemiology of plant diseases. In this article, we synthesize the relevant literature to identify patterns to the interactions. We then review studies on the ecological, biochemical and molecular mechanisms underlying the interactions and finally elaborate on the most interesting issues for future research. The interactions between begomoviruses and the insect vector, the whitefly Bemisia tabaci, via their shared host plants can be mutualistic, neutral or negative. However, in contrast to a pattern of improved performance of vectors on virus-infected plants that has been observed with persistently transmitted RNA viruses, the number of cases exhibiting mutualistic, neutral or negative effects in the indirect interactions between begomoviruses and whiteflies appear evenly distributed. With regard to the mechanisms of plant-mediated positive effects on whiteflies, two case studies indicate that suppression of plant defence and/or alteration in plant nutrition as a result of virus infection can be important. Our review shows that we are only just beginning to understand the tripartite interactions between begomoviruses, whiteflies and plants. Future efforts in this area should try to expand the number and diversity of pathosystems for investigation to reveal the patterns of interactions, to investigate the molecular and biochemical mechanisms of the interactions using a multidisciplinary approach, and to examine the virus–plant–vector interactions in the field and in natural plant communities.

Review Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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