Tomato cultivation is threatened by environmental stresses (e.g., heat, drought) and by viral infection (mainly viruses belonging to the tomato yellow leaf curl virus family—TYLCVs). Unlike many RNA viruses, TYLCV infection does not induce a hypersensitive response and cell death in tomato plants. To ensure a successful infection, TYLCV preserves a suitable cellular environment where it can reproduce. Infected plants experience a mild stress, undergo adaptation and become partially “ready” to exposure to other environmental stresses. Plant wilting and cessation of growth caused by heat and drought is suppressed by TYLCV infection, mainly by down-regulating the heat shock transcription factors, HSFA1, HSFA2, HSFB1 and consequently, the expression of HSF-regulated stress genes. In particular, TYLCV captures HSFA2 by inducing protein complexes and aggregates, thus attenuating an acute stress response, which otherwise causes plant death. Viral infection mitigates the increase in stress-induced metabolites, such as carbohydrates and amino acids, and leads to their reallocation from shoots to roots. Under high temperatures and water deficit, TYLCV induces plant cellular homeostasis, promoting host survival. Thus, this virus-plant interaction is beneficial for both partners.
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- environmental stresses
- virus-plant interaction