Aphid endosymbiont facilitates virus transmission by modulating the volatile profile of host plants

Xiao Bin Shi, Shuo Yan, Chi Zhang, Li Min Zheng, Zhan Hong Zhang, Shu E. Sun, Yang Gao, Xin Qiu Tan, De Yong Zhang, Xu Guo Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Most plant viruses rely on vectors for their transmission and spread. One of the outstanding biological questions concerning the vector-pathogen-symbiont multi-trophic interactions is the potential involvement of vector symbionts in the virus transmission process. Here, we used a multi-factorial system containing a non-persistent plant virus, cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), its primary vector, green peach aphid, Myzus persicae, and the obligate endosymbiont, Buchnera aphidicola to explore this uncharted territory. Results: Based on our preliminary research, we hypothesized that aphid endosymbiont B. aphidicola can facilitate CMV transmission by modulating plant volatile profiles. Gene expression analyses demonstrated that CMV infection reduced B. aphidicola abundance in M. persicae, in which lower abundance of B. aphidicola was associated with a preference shift in aphids from infected to healthy plants. Volatile profile analyses confirmed that feeding by aphids with lower B. aphidicola titers reduced the production of attractants, while increased the emission of deterrents. As a result, M. persicae changed their feeding preference from infected to healthy plants. Conclusions: We conclude that CMV infection reduces the B. aphidicola abundance in M. persicae. When viruliferous aphids feed on host plants, dynamic changes in obligate symbionts lead to a shift in plant volatiles from attraction to avoidance, thereby switching insect vector’s feeding preference from infected to healthy plants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number67
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Hunan Natural Science Foundation (2019JJ30014), the Agriculture Research System of China (CARS-16-E-17, CARS-23-D-02), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 32030088, 32072383, 31872932, 31901854). The funders had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or in the preparation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Buchnera aphidicola
  • Cucumber mosaic virus
  • Multi-trophic interaction
  • Myzus persicae
  • Plant volatile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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