Interference with jasmonic acid-regulated gene expression is a general property of viral suppressors of RNA silencing but only partly explains virus-induced changes in plant-aphid interactions
The cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) 2b viral suppressor of RNA silencing (VSR) inhibits host responses to jasmonic acid (JA), a chemical signal regulating resistance to insects. Previous experiments with a CMV subgroup IA strain and its 2b gene deletion mutant suggested that VSRs might neutralize aphid (Myzus persicae) resistance by inhibiting JA-regulated gene expression. To further investigate this, we examined JA-regulated gene expression and aphid performance in Nicotiana benthamiana infected with Potato virus X, Potato virus Y, Tobacco mosaic virus and a subgroup II CMV strain, as well as in transgenic plants expressing corresponding VSRs (p25, HC-Pro, 126 kDa and 2b). All the viruses or their VSRs inhibited JA-induced gene expression. However, this did not always correlate with enhanced aphid performance. Thus, VSRs are not the sole viral determinants of virus-induced changes in host-aphid interactions and interference with JA-regulated gene expression cannot completely explain enhanced aphid performance on virus-infected plants.