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Virology. 2001 Sep 1;287(2):349-58.

The variability of hop latent viroid as induced upon heat treatment.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Institute of Plant Molecular Biology Czech Academy of Sciences, Branisovsk√° 31, 37005, Czech Republic.


We have previously shown that heat treatment of hop plants infected by hop latent viroid (HLVd) reduces viroid levels. Here we investigate whether such heat treatment leads to the accumulation of sequence variability in HLVd. We observed a negligible level of mutated variants in HLVd under standard cultivation conditions. In contrast, the heat treatment of hop led to HLVd degradation and, simultaneously, to a significant increase in sequence variations, as judged from temperature gradient-gel electrophoresis analysis and cDNA library screening by DNA heteroduplex analysis. Thirty-one cDNA clones (9.8%) were identified as deviating forms. Sequencing showed mostly the presence of quadruple and triple mutants, suggesting an accumulation of mutations in HLVd during successive replication cycles. Sixty-nine percent of base changes were localised in the left half and 31% in the right half of the secondary structure proposed for this viroid. No mutations were found in the central part of the upper conserved region. A "hot spot" region was identified in a domain known as a "pathogenicity domain" in the group representative, potato spindle tuber viroid. Most mutations are predicted to destabilise HLVd secondary structure. All mutated cDNAs, however, were infectious and evolved into complex progeny populations containing molecular variants maintained at low levels.

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