Effect of asymptomatic infection with southern tomato virus on tomato plants
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Southern tomato virus (STV) is often found infecting healthy tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum). In this study, we compared STV-free and STV-infected plants of cultivar M82 to determine the effect of STV infection on the host plant. STV-free plants exhibited a short and bushy phenotype, whereas STV-infected plants were taller. STV-infected plants produced more fruit than STV-free plants, and the germination rate of seeds from STV-infected plants was higher than that of seeds from STV-free plants. This phenotypic difference was also observed in progeny plants (siblings) derived from a single STV-infected plant in which the transmission rate of STV to progeny plants via the seeds was approximately 86%. These results suggest that the interaction between STV and host plants is mutualistic. Transcriptome analysis revealed that STV infection affects gene expression in the host plant and results in downregulation of genes involved in ethylene biosynthesis and signaling. STV-infected tomato plants might thus be artificially selected due to their superior traits as a crop.
We thank Dr. Tomohide Natsuaki, Utsunomiya University, for valuable discussions, and the National BioResource Project of Japan, Tsukuba University, for providing tomato seeds. We acknowledge support received from the Gene Research Center at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, the NGS core facility of the Genome Information Research Center at the Research Institute for Microbial Diseases of Osaka University, and the Human Genome Center at the Institute of Medical Science of the University of Tokyo.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
This work was supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan (Scientific Research on Innovative Areas [nos. 16H06435, 16H06429, and 16H21723] to T.F. and H.T.) and the Global Innovation Research Organization of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (to T.F.), and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) through the JSPS Core-to-Core Program (Advanced Research Networks) entitled “Establishment of international agricultural immunology research-core for a quantum improvement in food safety” (to H.T.).
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