Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Plant and insect viruses in managed and natural environments: novel and neglected transmission pathways.

Abstract

The capacity to spread by diverse transmission pathways enhances a virus' ability to spread effectively and survive when circumstances change. This review aims to improve understanding of how plant and insect viruses spread through natural and managed environments by drawing attention to 12 novel or neglected virus transmission pathways whose contribution is underestimated. For plant viruses, the pathways reviewed are vertical and horizontal transmission via pollen, and horizontal transmission by parasitic plants, natural root grafts, wind-mediated contact, chewing insects, and contaminated water or soil. For insect viruses, they are transmission by plants serving as passive "vectors," arthropod vectors, and contamination of pollen and nectar. Based on current understanding of the spatiotemporal dynamics of virus spread, the likely roles of each pathway in creating new primary infection foci, enlarging previously existing infection foci, and promoting generalized virus spread are estimated. All pathways except transmission via parasitic plants, root grafts, and wind-mediated contact transmission are likely to produce new primary infection foci. All 12 pathways have the capability to enlarge existing infection foci, but only to a limited extent when spread occurs via virus-contaminated soil or vertical pollen transmission. All pathways except those via parasitic plant, root graft, contaminated soil, and vertical pollen transmission likely contribute to generalized virus spread, but to different extents. For worst-case scenarios, where mixed populations of host species occur under optimal virus spread conditions, the risk that host species jumps or virus emergence events will arise is estimated to be "high" for all four insect virus pathways considered, and, "very high" or "moderate" for plant viruses transmitted by parasitic plant and root graft pathways, respectively. To establish full understanding of virus spread and thereby optimize effective virus disease management, it is important to examine all transmission pathways potentially involved, regardless of whether the virus' ecology is already presumed to be well understood or otherwise.