Herbivore arthropods benefit from vectoring plant viruses
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Plants infected with pathogens often attract the pathogens' vectors, but it is not clear if this is advantageous to the vectors. We therefore quantified the direct and indirect (through the host plant) effects of a pathogen on its vector. A positive direct effect of the plant-pathogenic Tomato spotted wilt virus on its thrips vector (Frankliniella occidentalis) was found, but the main effect was indirect; juvenile survival and developmental rate of thrips was lower on pepper plants that were damaged by virus-free thrips than on unattacked plants, but such negative effects were absent on plants that were damaged and inoculated by infected thrips or were mechanically inoculated with the virus. Hence, potential vectors benefit from attacking plants with virus because virus-infected plants are of higher quality for the vector's offspring. We propose that plant pathogens in general have evolved mechanisms to overcome plant defences against their vectors, thus promoting pathogen spread.