Alcaide, Cristina; Josep Sardanyes; Santiago F. Elena and Pedro Gomez
Environmental conditions can affect viral accumulation, virulence and adaptation, which have implications in the disease outcomes and efficiency of control measures. Concurrently, mixed viral infections are relevant in plants, being their epidemiology shaped by within-host virus–virus interactions. However, the extent in which the combined effect of variations in abiotic components of the plant ecological niche and the prevalence of mixed infections affect the evolutionary dynamics of viral populations is not well understood. Here, we explore the interplay between ecological and evolutionary factors during viral infections and show that isolates of two strains of Pepino mosaic potexvirus coexisted in tomato plants in a temperature-dependent continuum between neutral and antagonistic interactions. After a long-term infection, the mutational analysis of the evolved viral genomes revealed strain-specific single-nucleotide polymorphisms that were modulated by the interaction between the type of infection and temperature. These results suggest that the temperature is an ecological driver of virus-virus interactions, with an effect on the genetic diversity of individual viruses that are co-infecting an individual host. This research provides insights into the effect that changes in host growth temperatures might have on the evolutionary dynamics of viral populations in mixed infections.