Caulimoviridae (Plant Pararetroviruses)


Family Caulimoviridae comprises seven genera of plant viruses whose members replicate by reverse transcription and whose virions contain double‐stranded deoxyribonucleic acid. In a recent survey of the international scientific community, Cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV), the type species of the family, was ranked sixth in the world in a list of the most scientifically or economically important plant viruses. This notoriety is due purely to the major conceptual advances that have been made in plant virology using CaMV as a model pathogen. However, several relatively lesser known viruses in the family, such as Rice tungro bacilliform virus and Cacao swollen shoot virus, are very serious constraints to crop production in tropical regions of the world. In this article, information on the taxonomy, replication cycle, vector transmission, epidemiology and disease management of this important group of plant viruses is summarised.

Key Concepts:

  • The Caulimoviridae is the only family of plant viruses with a double‐stranded deoxyribonucleic acid (dsDNA) genome, and in common with all viral retroelements, incorporates a reverse transcription step in the replication cycle.

  • Cauliflower mosaic virus is the type species of the family, and has been a very important model plant virus for elucidating fundamental aspects of virus replication, cell‐to‐cell movement and aphid transmission.

  • Members of the Caulimoviridae are most prominent in tropical regions, where they cause serious diseases such as rice tungro, cacao swollen shoot and banana streak disease.

  • The most important component of a control programme for these viruses is to reduced inoculum levels by using clean planting material, avoiding overlapping crops, and removing diseased plants and alternative hosts of the virus.

  • In some host species, infection can arise as a consequence of activation of viral DNA that is integrated in the nuclear genome of the plant.

Keywords: plant viruses; retroelement; pararetrovirus; reverse transcription; cauliflower mosaic virus; rice tungro; cacao swollen shoot; tropical crop

Figure 1.

Electron micrographs of particles of (a) Cauliflower mosaic virus (bar, 50 nm) and (b) Rice tungro bacilliform virus (bar, 100 nm) negatively stained with 2% uranyl acetate.

Figure 2.

Genome organisations of members of the Caulimoviridae; abbreviations of virus names in Table . The yellow double circle represents the double‐stranded DNA genome with the green circles indicating the positions of the single‐strand discontinuities. The red blocks on the CaMV map show the positions of the two promoters. The inner blue arcs represent the ORFs; RTBV ORF I is dashed to indicate that it does not have a conventional start codon. The positions of the RNA transcripts of CaMV are indicated by the outer blue circle and arc with the 5′ end shown by filled box and 3′ end by arrowhead. (Data for CaMV, Franck et al., ; SoyCMV, Hasegawa et al., ; CVMV, Calvert et al., ; PVCV, Richert‐Pöggeler and Shepherd, ; CoYMV, Medberry et al., ; RTBV, Hay et al., , Qu et al., .)



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Further Reading

Hohn T (2013) Plant pararetroviruses: interactions of cauliflower mosaic virus with plants and insects. Current Opinion in Virology 3: 629–638.

Scholthof K‐B G, Adkins S, Czosnek H et al. (2011) Top 10 plant viruses in molecular plant pathology. Molecular Plant Pathology 12: 938–954.

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How to Cite close
Geering, Andrew DW(Sep 2014) Caulimoviridae (Plant Pararetroviruses). In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000746.pub3]