Arabidopsis thaliana, an experimental host for tomato yellow leaf curl disease-associated begomoviruses by agroinoculation and whitefly transmission

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Tomato yellow leaf curl disease is one of the most devastating viral diseases affecting tomato crops worldwide. This disease is caused by several begomoviruses (genus Begomovirus, family Geminiviridae), such as Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), that are transmitted in nature by the whitefly vector Bemisia tabaci. An efficient control of this vectortransmitted disease requires a thorough knowledge of the plant–virus–vector triple interaction. The possibility of using Arabidopsis thaliana as an experimental host would provide the opportunity to use a wide variety of genetic resources and tools to understand interactions that are not feasible in agronomically important hosts. In this study, it is demonstrated that isolates of two strains (Israel, IL and Mild, Mld) of TYLCV can replicate and systemically infect A. thaliana ecotype Columbia plants either by Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated inoculation or through the natural vector Bemisia tabaci. The virus can also be acquired from A. thaliana-infected plants by B. tabaci and transmitted to either A. thaliana or tomato plants. Therefore, A. thaliana is a suitable host for TYLCV–insect vector–plant host interaction studies. Interestingly, an isolate of the Spain (ES) strain of a related begomovirus, Tomato yellow leaf curl Sardinia virus (TYLCSV-ES), is unable to infect this ecotype of A. thaliana efficiently. Using infectious chimeric viral clones between TYLCV-Mld and TYLCSV-ES, candidate viral factors involved in an efficient infection of A. thaliana were identified.