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Frequency-dependent assistance as a way out of competitive exclusion between two strains of an emerging virus

Péréfarres F., Thébaud G., Lefeuvre P., Chiroleu F., Rimbaud L., Hoareau M., Reynaud B., Lett J.M.. 2014. Proceedings - Royal Society. Biological Sciences, 281 (1781) : 9 p..

DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.3374

Biological invasions are the main causes of emerging viral diseases and they favour the co-occurrence of multiple species or strains in the same environment. Depending on the nature of the interaction, co-occurrence can lead to competitive exclusion or coexistence. The successive fortuitous introductions of two strains of Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV-Mld and TYLCV-IL) in Réunion Island provided an ideal opportunity to study the invasion of, and competition between, these worldwide emerging pathogens. During a 7-year field survey, we observed a displacement of the resident TYLCV-Mld by the newcomer TYLCV-IL, with TYLCV-Mld remaining mostly in co-infected plants. To understand the factors associated with this partial displacement, biological traits related to fitness were measured. The better ecological aptitude of TYLCV-IL in single infections was demonstrated, which explains its rapid spread. However, we demonstrate that the relative fitness of virus strains can drastically change between single infections and co-infections. An epidemiological model parametrized with our experimental data predicts that the two strains will coexist in the long run through assistance by the fitter strain. This rare case of unilateral facilitation between two pathogens leads to frequency-dependent selection and maintenance of the less fit strain.

Mots-clés : virus des végétaux; interactions biologiques; compétition biologique; Épidémiologie; modèle mathématique; enquête pathologique; espèce envahissante; réunion; france; tomato yellow leaf curl virus

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