Elena, S. F.
For multihost pathogens, adaptation to multiple hosts has important implications for both applied and basic research. At the applied level, it is one of the main factors determining the probability and severity of emerging disease outbreaks. At the basic level, it is thought to be a key mechanism for the maintenance of genetic diversity both in host and pathogen species. In recent years, a number of evolution experiments have assessed the fate of plant virus populations replicating within and adapting to one single or to multiple hosts species. A first group of these experiments tackled the existence of trade-offs in fitness and virulence for viruses evolving either within a single hosts species or alternating between two different host species. A second set of experiments explored the role of genetic variability in susceptibility and resistance to infection among individuals from the same host species in the extent of virus local adaptation and of virulence. In general, when a single host species or genotype is available, these experiments show that local adaptation takes place, often but not always associated with a fitness trade-off. However, alternating between different host species or infecting resistant host genotypes may select for generalist viruses that experience no fitness cost. Therefore, the expected cost of generalism, arising from antagonistic pleiotropy and other genetic mechanisms generating fitness trade-offs between hosts, could not be generalized and strongly depend on the characteristics of each particular pathosystem. At the genomic level, these studies show pervasive convergent molecular evolution, suggesting that the number of accessible molecular pathways leading to adaptation to novel hosts is limited.