Plant viruses have evolved a wide array of strategies to ensure efficient transfer from one host to the next. Any organism feeding on infected plants and traveling between plants can potentially act as a virus transport device. Such organisms, designated vectors, are found among parasitic fungi, root nematodes and plant-feeding arthropods, particularly insects. Due to their extremely specialized feeding behavior - exploring and sampling all plant tissues, from the epidermis to the phloem and xylem - aphids are by far the most important vectors, transmitting nearly 30% of all plant virus species described to date. Several different interaction patterns have evolved between viruses and aphid vectors and, over the past century, a tremendous number of studies have provided details of the underlying mechanisms. This article presents an overview of the different types of virus-aphid relationships, state-of-the-art knowledge of the molecular processes underlying these interactions, and the remaining black boxes waiting to be opened in the near future.
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