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PLOS Science Wednesday: Hi Reddit, we’re Niels and Nik, and we propose that cucumber mosaic virus repays its hosts luring pollinators to infected plants and increasing seed production and pollen export – Ask Us Anything!
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Hi Reddit, My name is Simon “Niels” Groen and I am post-doctoral fellow at New York University. My research focuses on plant-microbe-insect interactions. I am joined by Nik Cunniffe, a University Lecturer in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge and co-author on the PLOS Pathogens article. Nik’s research focuses on developing mathematical models of how plant diseases spread, evolve and can be controlled. We recently published a paper titled Virus Infection of Plants Alters Pollinator Preference: A Payback for Susceptible Hosts? in PLOS Pathogens. Cucumber mosaic virus, an important pathogen of tomato, causes plants to emit volatile chemicals that attract bumblebees - bumblebees are important tomato pollinators, but do not transmit this virus. We propose that under natural conditions, helping host reproduction by encouraging bee visitation might represent a ‘payback’ by the virus to susceptible hosts. We will be answering your questions at 1pm ET – Ask Us Anything! Don’t forget to follow Niels and Nik on Twitter @simoncgroen and @nikcunniffe.