Pliant pathogens: Estimating viral spread when confronted with new vector, host, and environmental conditions

Anita J Krause, Ryan Campbell, Lauren Shoemaker, Andrew Sieben, Alexander Strauss, Allison K. Shaw, Eric W. Seabloom, Elizabeth T. Borer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Pathogen spread rates are determined, in part, by the performance of pathogens under altered environmental conditions and their ability to persist while switching among hosts and vectors. To determine the effects of new conditions (host, vector, and nutrient) on pathogen spread rate, we introduced a vector-borne viral plant pathogen, Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus PAV (BYDV-PAV) into hosts, vectors, and host nutrient supplies that it had not encountered for thousands of viral generations. We quantified pathogen prevalence over the course of two serial inoculations under the new conditions. Using individual-level transmission rates from this experiment, we parameterized a dynamical model of disease spread and projected spread across host populations through a growing season. A change in nutrient conditions (increased supply of phosphorus) reduced viral transmission whereas shifting to a new vector or host species had no effect on infection prevalence. However, the reduction in the new nutrient environment was only temporary; infection prevalence recovered after the second inoculation. Synthesis. These results highlight how robust the pathogen, BYDV-PAV, is to changes in its biotic and abiotic environment. Our study also highlights the need to quantify longitudinal infection information beyond snapshot assessments to project disease risk for pathogens in new environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1877-1887
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support was provided through National Science Foundation REU awarded to RC and DEB‐1556649 awarded to ETB and EWS.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus
  • novel conditions
  • pathogen
  • transmission


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