Vector development and vitellogenin determine the transovarial transmission of begomoviruses

Research paper by Jing Wei, Ya-Zhou He, Qi Guo, Tao Guo, Yin-Quan Liu, Xue-Ping Zhou, Shu-Sheng Liu, Xiao-Wei Wang

Indexed on: 14 Jun '17Published on: 12 Jun '17Published in: PNAS


The majority of plant viruses are transmitted by insect vectors between hosts, and transovarial transmission of viruses from vector parents to offspring has great significance to their epidemiology. Begomoviruses are transmitted by the whitefly Bemisia tabaci in a circulative manner and are maintained through a plant–insect–plant cycle. Other routes of begomovirus transmission are not clearly known. Here, we report that transovarial transmission from female whiteflies to offspring often happens for one begomovirus, Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), and may have contributed significantly to its global spread. We found that TYLCV entry of the reproductive organ of its vector mainly depended on the developmental stage of the whitefly ovary, and the transovarial transmission of TYLCV to offspring increased with whitefly adult age. The specific interaction between virus coat protein (CP) and whitefly vitellogenin (Vg) was vital for virus entry into whitefly ovary. When knocking down the expression of Vg, the entry of TYLCV into ovary was inhibited and the transovarial transmission efficiency decreased. In contrast, another begomovirus, Papaya leaf curl China virus (PaLCuCNV), CP did not interact with whitefly Vg, and PaLCuCNV could not be transovarially transmitted by whiteflies. We further showed that TYLCV could be maintained for at least two generations in the absence of virus-infected plants, and the adult progenies were able to infect healthy plants in both the laboratory and field. This study reports the transovarial transmission mechanism of begomoviruses, and it may help to explain the evolution and global spread of some begomoviruses.