The latest in the “Pearls” series from PLOS Pathogens is about plant virus ecology. In this short and highly accessible article, Marilyn Roossinck provides an excellent primer for the non-initiated:
- Plant Virus Biodiveristy
- Plant Viruses and Invasive Species
- Viruses, Plants and Insects
- Persistent Plant Viruses
- Mutualistic Viruses of Plants
Plant Virus Ecology. (2013) PLoS Pathog 9(5): e1003304. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003304
Viruses have generally been studied either as disease-causing infectious agents that have a negative impact on the host (most eukaryote-infecting viruses), or as tools for molecular biology (especially bacteria-infecting viruses, or phage). Virus ecology looks at the more complex issues of virus-host-environment interactions. For plant viruses this includes studies of plant virus biodiversity, including viruses sampled directly from plants and from a variety of other environments; how plant viruses impact species invasion; interactions between plants, viruses and insects; the large number of persistent viruses in plants that may have epigenetic effects; and viruses that provide a clear benefit to their plant hosts (mutualists). Plants in a non-agricultural setting interact with many other living entities such as animals, insects, and other plants, as well as their physical environment. Wild plants are almost always colonized by a number of microbes, including fungi, bacteria and viruses. Viruses may impact any of these interactions.