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Ecological fitting is the forerunner to diversification in a plant virus with broad host range

The evolution and diversification of plant viruses involve interactions that are organised at the scale of the ecosystem by both genetic and ecological processes. Watermelon mosaic virus (WMV) is known for causing substantial cucurbit crop yield loss across its global distribution. Understanding whether the physical make up of agricultural ecosystems structures the incidence of WMV is important for predicting the spread of invasive and local variants. Here we employ a high throughput sequencing approach to examine the influence of four vegetation types (see Haplotype network) on the evolution of WMV in an agro-ecosystem in central Spain. WMV infected a total of 24 species and its incidence and genetic diversity were structured significantly by host species and vegetation type. A single haplotype that infected 11 host species, showed that few limitations on host species use existed in the crop vegetation type. The variation in genetic diversity broadly corresponded to changes between anthropic and wild vegetation types, and suggested that ecological factors underlie host use preferences and spread of WMV.

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Original Paper:

Peláez, A., McLeish, M.J., Paswan, R.R., Dubai, B., Fraile, A., García‐Arenal, F. 2020. Ecological fitting is the forerunner to diversification in a plant virus with broad host range. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. DOI: 10.1111/jeb.13672

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