Genetic bottlenecks are stochastic events that narrow variation in a population. We compared bottlenecks during the systemic infection of Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) in four host plants. We mechanically inoculated an artificial population of twelve CMV mutants to young leaves of tomato, pepper, Nicotiana benthamiana, and squash. The inoculated leaves and primary and secondary systemically infected leaves were sampled at 2, 10, and 15 days post-inoculation. All twelve mutants were detected in all of the inoculated leaves. The number of mutants recovered from the systemically infected leaves of all host species was reduced significantly, indicating bottlenecks in systemic movement. The recovery frequencies of a few of the mutants were significantly different in each host probably due to host-specific selective forces. These results have implications for the differences in virus population variation that is seen in different host plants.
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