Transmission of plant pathogenic viruses mostly relies on insect vectors. Plant virus could enhance its transmission by modulating the vector. Previously, we showed that feeding on virus infected plants can promote the reproduction of the sweet potato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci MED (Q biotype). In this study, using a whitefly-Tomato chlorosis virus (ToCV)-tomato system, we investigated how ToCV modulates B. tabaci MED reproduction to facilitate its spread. Here, we hypothesized that ToCV-infected tomato plants would increase B. tabaci MED fecundity via elevated vitellogenin (Vg) gene expression. As a result, fecundity and the relative expression of B. tabaci MED Vg was measured on ToCV-infected and uninfected tomato plants on days 4, 8, 12, 16, 20 and 24. The role of Vg on B. tabaci MED reproduction was examined in the presence and absence of ToCV using dietary RNAi. ToCV infection significantly increased B. tabaci MED fecundity on days 12, 16 and 20, and elevated Vg expression on days 8, 12 and 16. Both ovarian development and fecundity of B. tabaci MED were suppressed when Vg was silenced with or without ToCV infection. These combined results suggest that ToCV infection increases B. tabaci MED fecundity via elevated Vg expression.

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Published in Insects, v. 12, issue 2, 101.

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 31872932, 31972242, 31672003), the Agriculture Research System of China (CARS-25-B-05), and Natural Science Foundation of Hunan Province (2019JJ30014).

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