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J Gen Virol. 1999 Aug;80 ( Pt 8):2239-52.

Rapid generation of genetic heterogeneity in progenies from individual cDNA clones of peach latent mosaic viroid in its natural host.

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  • 1Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas (UPV-CSIC), Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Spain.


Viroids, small single-stranded circular RNAs endowed with autonomous replication, are unique systems to conduct evolutionary studies of complete RNA genomes. The primary structure of 36 progeny variants of peach latent mosaic viroid (PLMVd), evolved from inoculations of the peach indicator GF-305 with four individual PLMVd cDNAs differing in their pathogenicity, has been determined. Most progeny variants had unique sequences, revealing that the extremely heterogeneous character of PLMVd natural isolates most probably results from the intrinsic ability of this RNA to accumulate changes, rather than from repeated inoculations of the same individual trees under field conditions. The structure of the populations derived from single PLMVd sequences differed according to the observed phenotype. Variant gds6 induced a reproducible symptomatic infection and gave rise to a more uniform progeny that preserves some parental features, whereas variant gds15, which induced a variable phenotype, showed a more complex behaviour, generating two distinct progenies in symptomatic and asymptomatic individual plants. Progenies derived from variants esc10 and Is11, which incited latent infections, followed a similar evolutionary pattern, leading to a population structure consisting of two main groups of variants, one of which was formed by variants closely related to the parental sequence. The evolution rate exhibited by PLMVd, considerably higher than that reported for potato spindle tuber viroid, may contribute to the fluctuating symptomatology of the severe PLMVd natural isolates. However, the polymorphism observed in PLMVd progenies does preserve some structural and functional elements previously proposed for this viroid, supporting the fact that they act as constraints limiting the genetic divergence of PLMVd quasispecies generated de novo.

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