Scientists shown how viruses can help their hosts survive

(ORDO NEWS) — Spanish biologists have demonstrated how unfavorable environmental conditions change the relationship of the virus with its host for overall survival.

In most cases, the relationship of the virus with its host is limited to simple parasitism. However, sometimes even they are able to be beneficial: for example, they help to exchange genes for some aquatic microbes. And in 2008, it was shown that plants infected with mosaic viruses are easier to tolerate water scarcity and drying out. A new article, which is being prepared for publication in the journal PNAS, demonstrates how, under the influence of stressful environmental factors, viruses and their hosts move from pathogenesis to mutually beneficial mutualism – from the “evil” to the “good” side.

Scientists from the Spanish Institute for the Biology of Integrative Systems (I2SysBio) have experimented with the rezuvid thal, infecting it with the turnip mosaic virus. It turned out that such plants can more easily withstand a lack of moisture – and their chances of survival are a quarter higher than that of uninfected neighbors. “Under normal conditions, the virus exhibits a classic pathogenesis and leads to the death of irrigated plants,” adds Professor Santiago Elena, who led the study. “However, if infected plants experience the stress of drying out, they stay alive.”

The authors continued the experiments by infecting rezuhovidki with mosaic viruses, which themselves developed either under normal conditions or with a lack of water, after which some plants were watered, while others were kept again with insufficient moisture. It turned out that the probability of plant death is less, even under normal conditions, if the viruses for it were taken from conditions of lack of water. Apparently, they somehow change the activity of the plant’s own genes, its transcript, which facilitates its survival.

By comparing the transcriptomes of plants infected with different lines of mosaic viruses, the scientists found that the main changes affect the work of genes involved in the regulation of circadian rhythms of cellular activity. Perhaps this leads to a more economical conservation and consumption of moisture by the body, allowing it to endure an unfavorable period, and at the same time survive the virus itself. According to the authors, this is the first work to demonstrate how environmental factors can dramatically change the relationship between viruses and their hosts.

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