Research in virology has usually focused on one selected host-virus pathosystem to examine the mechanisms underlying a particular disease. However, as exemplified by the mechanistically versatile suppression of antiviral RNA silencing by plant viruses, there may be functionally convergent evolution. Assuming this is a widespread feature, we propose that effector proteins from diverse plant viruses can be a powerful resource for discovering new regulatory mechanisms of distinct cellular pathways. The efficiency of this approach will depend on how deeply and widely the studied pathway is integrated into viral infections. Beyond this, comparative studies using broad virus diversity should increase our global understanding of plant-virus interactions.
© Society for Experimental Biology 2019.