Plant viruses can profoundly alter the phenotypes of their host plants, with potentially far-reaching implications for ecology. Yet few studies have explored the indirect, host-mediated, effects of plant viruses on non-vector insects. We examined how infection of Cucurbita pepo plants by Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) impacted the susceptibility of aphids (Myzus persicae) to attack by the parasitoid wasp Aphidius colemani. In semi-natural foraging assays, we observed higher rates of aphid parasitism on infected plants compared to healthy plants. Subsequent experiments revealed that this difference is not explained by different attack rates on plants differing in infection status, but rather by the fact that parasitoid larvae successfully complete their development more often when aphid hosts feed on infected plants. This suggests that the reduced nutritional quality of infected plants as host for aphids - documented in previous studies - compromises their ability to mount effective defenses against parasitism. Furthermore, our current findings indicate that the aphid diet during parasitoid development (rather than prior to wasp oviposition) is a key factor influencing resistance. These findings complement our previous work showing that CMV-induced changes in host plant chemistry alter patterns of aphid recruitment and dispersal in ways conducive to virus transmission.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes