Viruses that infect wild plants mediate ecophysiology of hosts and exert evolutionarily-significant pressure on both biotic agents. While data on plant-virus interactions does exist in some wild systems, the majority of research focuses on agriculturally-relevant interactions, which thus curtails our understanding of viral pressure and disease dynamics under natural conditions. During the summer of 2016, I tested wild brassica species for viral presence across latitudinal and elevational clines and between agriculture versus natural systems throughout upstate New York. Investigation of host plant variation, both between and with species, and abiotic conditions were tested for potential impacts on in viral presence.
This work reports the first documented cases of Turnip Mosaic Virus (TuMV) in wild brassica plants anywhere in New York State, and will present a novel system for the study of environmentally-mediated plant-virus interactions. During the summer of 2016, I positively identified TuMV in 13% of over 500 Brassica specimen from across the Adirondacks and Tompkins county, and detected potential impacts of landscape scale effects on presence or absence of TuMV. It is evident that the non-native brassica species H. matronalis and Alliaria petiolata are a suitable hosts for TuMV and occur most frequently in highly-disturbed areas, which suggests that non-native plants may facilitate range expansion of viruses into novel hosts and communities. Future work will include deep sequencing for viral strain diversity between native and non-native plants in the Adirondacks and beyond.