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CO2, the Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus, and Tomato Productivity
Huang, L., Ren, Q., Sun, Y., Ye, L., Cao, H. and Ge, F. 2012. Lower incidence and severity of tomato virus in elevated CO2 is accompanied by modulated plant induced defense in tomato. Plant Biology 14: 905-913.

The authors write that the tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) "causes severe damage to tomato crops in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide (Czosnek and Laterrot, 1997; Zhou et al., 2009)," and they say that "in China, TYLCV is the most important viral pathogen of tomato in the major tomato-producing areas," citing Zhu et al. (2008).

What was done
Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) plants were grown from seed in pots filled with sterilized loamy field soil that were enclosed within ventilated insect-proof cages placed inside open-top chambers located in Xiaotangshan County, Beijing, China, where half of the cages were infected with TYLCV and the plants in both sets of cages were allowed to grow for approximately two months in both 2009 and 2010 in ambient or CO2-enriched air of either 363 or 758 ppm in 2009 and either 372 or 746 ppm in 2010.

What was learned
The six scientists report that "elevated CO2 decreased TYLCV disease incidence (by 14.6% in 2009 and 11.8% in 2010) and decreased disease severity (by 20.0% in 2009 and 10.4% in 2010)." In addition, they found that "elevated CO2 increased tomato plant height by 40.8% and 36.5%, and increased the aboveground biomass by 23.3% and 14.3%, in uninfected plants and TYLCV-infected plants in 2009, respectively," while "elevated CO2 increased plant height by 36.9% and 26.0% and increased the aboveground biomass by 53.9% and 28.7%, in uninfected plants and TYLCV-infected plants in 2010, respectively."

What it means
In addition to the fact that atmospheric CO2 enrichment significantly enhances the productivity of uninfected tomato plants, Huang et al. say their findings imply that the predicted increases in tomato productivity under normal conditions may be further enhanced "by reduced susceptibility to plant viruses under projected rising CO2 conditions."

Czosnek, H. and Laterrot, H. 1997. A worldwide survey of tomato yellow leaf curl viruses. Archives of Virology 142: 1391-1406.

Zhou, X.P., Zhang, H. and Gong, H.R. 2009. Molecular characterization and pathogenicity of Tomato yellow leaf curl virus in China. Virus Genes 39: 249-255.

Zhu, W.M., Zhang, Y.P., Cui, H.M., Qiu, Y., Sha, K., Wan, Y.H., Zhu, L.Y., Yu, L. and Hui, Z. 2008. Molecular identification and the complete nucleotide sequence of TYLCV isolate from Shanghai, China. Virus Genes 36: 547-551.

Reviewed 17 April 2013