The interactions of vector-virus-plant have important ecological and evolutionary implications. While the tripartite interactions have received some attention, little is known about whether vector infestation affects subsequent viral transmission and infection. Working with the whitefly Bemisia tabaci, begomovirus and tobacco/tomato, we demonstrate that pre-infestation of plants by the whitefly vector reduced subsequent plant susceptibility to viral transmission. Pre-infestation by the cotton bollworm, a nonvector of the virus, likewise repressed subsequent viral transmission. The two types of insects, with piercing and chewing mouthparts, respectively, activated different plant signaling pathways in the interactions. Whitefly pre-infestation activated the salicylic acid (SA) signaling pathway, leading to deposition of callose that inhibited begomovirus replication/movement. Although cotton bollworm infestation elicited the jasmonic acid (JA) defense pathway and was beneficial to virus replication, the pre-infested plants repelled whiteflies from feeding and so decreased virus transmission. Experiments using a pharmaceutical approach with plant hormones or a genetic approach using hormone transgenic or mutant plants further showed that SA played a negative but JA played a positive role in begomovirus infection. These novel findings indicate that both vector and nonvector insect feeding of a plant may have substantial negative consequences for ensuing viral transmission and infection.
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