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Virology. 1994 Apr;200(1):48-55.

Symptom severity of beet western yellows virus strain ST9 is conferred by the ST9-associated RNA and is not associated with virus release from the phloem.

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Department of Plant Pathology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Davis 95616.


The ST9 strain of beet western yellows virus (BWYV ST9) is unique among BWYV strains because it encapsidates not only its 5.6-kb genomic RNA but also a 2.8-kb RNA of distinct nucleotide sequence, designated as the ST9-associated RNA. We obtained isolates of BWYV ST9 that are free of the associated RNA by transfecting Nicotiana tabacum protoplasts with transcripts of an ST9 genomic cDNA clone. Aphids were fed on extracts of infected protoplasts and were transferred to young Shepherd's Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) plants. When the protoplast inoculum was ST9 genomic transcript or virion RNA of the L-1 strain of BWYV (free of the associated RNA), symptoms were mild and characteristic of BWYV L-1. When ST9-associated RNA was included in the inoculum with genomic RNA of either source, subsequently infected Shepherd's Purse plants showed the severe symptoms that are characteristic of BWYV ST9. Inclusion of ST9-associated RNA in the inoculum with ST9 genomic RNA increased the accumulation of capsid antigen and ST9 genomic RNA, relative to infections initiated with ST9 genomic RNA alone. Using gold-labeled antibody and electron microscopy, we assessed the distribution of virions in Shepherd's Purse plants. Regardless of whether the associated RNA was present, sites showing immunoreactivity above background levels were restricted to the phloem, suggesting that the increased BWYV ST9 titer and symptom severity that are correlated with the presence of the ST9-associated RNA are not due to escape of the infection from phloem limitation.

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