Host nutrition mediates interactions between plant viruses, altering transmission and predicted disease spread


Interactions among co-infecting pathogens are common across host taxa and can affect infectious disease dynamics. Host nutrition can mediate these among-pathogen interactions, altering the establishment and growth of pathogens within hosts. It is unclear, however, how nutrition-mediated among-pathogen interactions affect transmission and the spread of disease through populations. We manipulated the nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) supplies to oat plants in growth chambers and evaluated interactions between two aphid-vectored Barley and Cereal Yellow Dwarf Viruses – PAV and RPV. We quantified the effect of each virus on the other’s establishment, within-plant density, and transmission. Co-inoculation significantly increased PAV density when N and P supplies were low and tended to increase RPV density when N supply was high. Co-infection increased PAV transmission when N and P supplies were low and tended to increase RPV transmission when N supply was high. Despite the parallels between the effects of among-pathogen interactions on density and transmission, changes in virus density only partially explained changes in transmission, suggesting that virus density-independent processes contribute to transmission. A mathematical model describing the spread of two viruses through a plant population, parameterized with empirically derived transmission values, demonstrated that nutrition-mediated among-pathogen interactions could affect disease spread. Interactions that altered transmission through virus density-independent processes determined overall disease dynamics. Our work suggests that host nutrition alters disease spread through among-pathogen interactions that modify transmission.

Ecology, e03155
Amy E. Kendig
Amy E. Kendig
Postdoctoral Researcher

ecologist and data scientist specializing in human impacts in plant communities