Characteristics and drivers of plant virus community spatial patterns in US west coast grasslands

Amy E. Kendig, Elizabeth T. Borer, Charles E. Mitchell, Alison G. Power, Eric W. Seabloom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The spatial distribution of disease risk caused by multi-pathogen infections is not frequently characterized, limiting understanding of the drivers of infection and thwarting prediction of future risk in a changing environment. Further complicating this predictive understanding is that interactions among multiple pathogens within a host commonly alter transmission success, infection risk, and disease dynamics. By characterizing spatial patterns of Barley and Cereal Yellow Dwarf Virus (B/CYDV) infections that range from the scale of an individual plant to thousands of neighboring plants, we examined the contributions of spatial processes to the distribution of disease risk. In a two-year field experiment, we planted grass hosts of B/CYDVs into fertilized plots of US west coast grasslands. We determined how vector-sharing, environmental conditions and spatial variation in host quality affected spatial patterns of single viruses, pairs of viruses and the whole virus community across out-planted grass hosts. We found that single viruses and virus communities were spatially random, indicating that infection does not solely spread through the community in a wave-like manner. On the other hand, we found that pairs of viruses, especially those that share a vector species, were aggregated spatially. This suggests that if within-host competition exists, it is not strong. Aggregation in one pair of viruses was more frequent due to environmental conditions and spatial variation in out-planted host quality, measured as vector preference. These results highlight the importance of insect vectors for predicting the spatial distribution of coinfection risk by B/CYDVs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1281-1290
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017

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