Abstract We have previously shown that local infection of tobacco plants with tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) or oilseed rape mosaic virus (ORMV) results in a systemic increase in the homologous recombination frequency (HRF). Here, we analyzed what other changes in the genome are triggered by pathogen infection. For the analysis of HRF, mutation frequency (MF) and microsatellite instability (MI), we used three different transgenic Arabidopsis lines carrying β-glucuronidase ( GUS)-based substrates in their genome. We found that local infection of Arabidopsis with ORMV resulted in an increase of all three frequencies, albeit to differing degrees. The most prominent increase was observed in microsatellite instability. The increase in HRF was the lowest, although still statistically significant. The analysis of methylation of the 35S promoter and transgene expression showed that the greater instability of the transgene was not attributed to these changes. Strand breaks brought about a significant increase in non-treated tissues of infected plants. The expression of genes associated with various repair processes, such as KU70, RAD51, MSH2, DNA POL α and DNA POL δ, was also increased. To summarize, our data demonstrate that local ORMV infection destabilizes the genome in systemic tissues of Arabidopsis plants in various ways resulting in large rearrangements, point mutations and microsatellite instability.