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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2000 Sep;38:117-143. doi: 10.1146/annurev.phyto.38.1.117.

Advances in Understanding Plant Viruses and Virus Diseases.

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Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853; e-mail:
Pathology Division, Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee DD2 5DA, United Kingdom; e-mail:


▪ Abstract  Plant viruses have had an impact on the science of virology and on plant pathology ever since the virus concept was discovered with Tobacco mosaic virus at the end of the nineteenth century. In this review, we highlight those discoveries. We have divided plant virus research into a "Classical Discovery Period" from 1883-1951 in which the findings were very descriptive; an "Early Molecular Era" from 1952 to about 1983, in which information was developed that described further properties of the viruses, aided by the development of a number of salient techniques; and the "Recent Period" from 1983 to the present, when techniques have been developed to modify plant virus genomes, to detect nonstructural gene products, to determine the functions of viral gene products, and to transform plants to elicit novel forms of resistance to viral diseases. In this period, plant virology has played a significant role in formulating an understanding of the mechanisms of gene silencing and recombination, plasmodesmatal function, systemic acquired resistance, and in developing methods for pathogen detection. We also attempt to predict the direction plant virology will take in the future.


genetic engineering; history of plant virus diseases; molecular plant virology

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