Environmental nutrient supply alters prevalence and weakens competitive interactions among coinfecting viruses

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• The rates and ratios of environmental nutrient supplies can determine plant community composition. However, the effect of nutrient supplies on within-host microbial interactions is poorly understood. Resource competition is a promising theory for understanding microbial interactions, because microparasites require nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) for synthesis of macromolecules such as nucleic acids and proteins. • To better understand the effects of nutrient supplies to hosts on pathogen interactions, we singly inoculated and coinoculated Avena sativa with two virus species, barley yellow dwarf virus-PAV (BYDV-PAV) and cereal yellow dwarf virus-RPV (CYDV-RPV). Host plants were grown across a factorial combination of N and P supply rates that created a gradient of N: P supply ratios, one being replicated at low and high nutrient supply. • Nutrient supply affected prevalence and the interaction strength among viruses. P addition lowered CYDV-RPV prevalence. The two viruses had a distinct competitive hierarchy: the coinoculation of BYDV-PAV lowered CYDV-RPV infection rate, but the reverse was not true. This antagonistic interaction occurred at low nutrient supply rates and disappeared at high N supply rate. • Given the global scale of human alterations of N and P cycles, these results suggest that elevated nutrient supply will increase risks of virus coinfection with likely effects on virus epidemiology, virulence and evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-433
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 New Phytologist Trust.


  • Coinfection
  • Host susceptibility
  • Nutrient
  • Pathogen interactions
  • RNA virus
  • Stoichiometry
  • Vectored plant pathogen


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