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Photosynth Res. 2006 Nov;90(2):111-23. Epub 2007 Jan 3.

Imaging viral infection: studies on Nicotiana benthamiana plants infected with the pepper mild mottle tobamovirus.

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Plant Biology Department, Centro Investigaciones Biológicas, CSIC, Ramiro de Maeztu 9, Madrid, 28040, Spain.


We have studied by kinetic Chl-fluorescence imaging (Chl-FI) Nicotiana benthamiana plants infected with the Italian strain of the pepper mild mottle tobamovirus (PMMoV-I). We have mapped leaf photosynthesis at different points of the fluorescence induction curve as well as at different post-infection times. Images of different fluorescence parameters were obtained to investigate which one could discriminate control from infected leaves in the absence of symptoms. The non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) of excess energy in photosystem II (PSII) seems to be the most adequate chlorophyll fluorescence parameter to assess the effect of tobamoviral infection on the chloroplast. Non-symptomatic mature leaves from inoculated plants displayed a very characteristic time-varying NPQ pattern. In addition, a correlation between NPQ amplification and virus localization by tissue-print was found, suggesting that an increase in the local NPQ values is associated with the areas invaded by the pathogen. Changes in chloroplast ultrastructure in non-symptomatic leaf areas showing different NPQ levels were also investigated. A gradient of ultrastructural modifications was observed among the different areas.

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