A growing body of research points to a positive interplay between viruses and plants. Tomato yellow curl virus (TYLCV) is able to protect tomato host plants against extreme drought. To envisage the use of virus protective capacity in agriculture, TYLCV-resistant tomato lines have to be infected first with the virus before planting.
Such virus-resistant tomato plants contain virus amounts that do not cause disease symptoms, growth inhibition, or yield loss, but are sufficient to modify the metabolism of the plant, resulting in improved tolerance to drought. This phenomenon is based on the TYLCV-dependent stabilization of amounts of key osmoprotectants induced by drought (soluble sugars, amino acids, and proteins).
Although in infected TYLCV-susceptible tomatoes, stress markers also show enhanced stability, in infected TYLCV-resistant plants, water balance and osmolyte homeostasis reach particularly high levels. These tomato plants survive long periods of time during water withholding. However, after recovery to normal irrigation, they produce fruits which are not exposed to drought, similar to the control plants. Using these features, it might be possible to cultivate TYLCV-resistant plants during seasons characterized by water scarcity.
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Shteinberg, Moshik & Mishra, Ritesh & Anfoka, Ghandi & Altaleb, Miassar & Brotman, Yariv & Moshelion, Menachem & Gorovits, Rena & Czosnek, Henryk. (2021). Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV) Promotes Plant Tolerance to Drought. Cells. 10. 2875. 10.3390/cells10112875.