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Viruses are obligate pathogens that entirely rely on their hosts to complete their infectious cycle. The outcome of viral infections depends on the status of the host. Host developmental stage is an important but sometimes overlooked factor impacting host-virus interactions. This impact is especially relevant in a context where climate change and human activities are altering plant development. To better understand how different host developmental stages shape virus evolution, we experimentally evolved turnip mosaic virus (TuMV) on Arabidopsis thaliana at three different developmental stages: vegetative (juvenile), bolting (transition) and reproductive (mature). After infecting plants with an Arabidopsis-naive or an Arabidopsis-well-adapted TuMV isolate, we observed that hosts in later developmental stages were prone to faster and more severe infections. This observation was extended to viruses belonging to different genera. Thereafter, we experimentally evolved lineages of the naive and the well-adapted TuMV isolates in plants from each of the three developmental stages. All evolved viruses enhanced their infection traits, but this increase was more intense in viruses evolved in younger hosts. The genomic changes of the evolved viral lineages revealed mutation patterns that strongly depended on the founder viral isolate as well as on the developmental stage of the host wherein the lineages were evolved. This article is part of the theme issue 'Infectious disease ecology and evolution in a changing world'.

Original publication




Journal article


Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences

Publication Date





Instituto de Biología Integrativa de Sistemas (CSIC - Universitat de València), Paterna, 46182 València, Spain.


Humans, Plant Viruses, Potyvirus, Arabidopsis, RNA, Plant, Plant Diseases