Viruses and Plant Disease


Viruses are submicroscopic obligate intracellular parasites that replicate only inside the living cells of other organisms. They contain nucleic acid (either RNA or DNA) and may cause a disease. Viruses are considered to be a life form, because they carry genetic material, reproduce and evolve through natural selection. Their size varies between 15 and 2000 nm (10−9m). Plant viral genomes encode between 1 and 12 proteins. Direct and indirect economic effects of major virus diseases such as citrus tristeza, cassava mosaic, virus diseases of potato and sweet potato, cacao swollen shoot, whitefly‐transmitted viruses in tomato and plum pox in stone fruits are described.

Key Concepts

  • This is a brief introduction to plant viruses and virus diseases.

Keywords: cacao swollen shoot; cassava mosaic; citrus tristeza; crop losses; plum pox; potato viruses; sweet potato viruses; tomato yellow leaf curl; negative staining; Maize streak virus; polyprotein; transmission of viruses; stylet‐borne; persistent transmission; transgenics

Figure 1. Broken colour tulips.
Figure 10. Cucumber mosaic virus – isometric particles 28 nm.
Figure 11. Particles of Tomato yellow leaf curl virus IS. Photo by Dr Y. Antignus, Agric. Res. Organ. Bet Dagan, Israel. Reproduced with permission.
Figure 12. Scheme of the polyprotein of Potato virus Y. © ViralZone, SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, used with permission.
Figure 2. Orange tree infected with Citrus tristeza virus.
Figure 3. Potato cv. Desiree with leaf roll symptoms.
Figure 4. Leaf drop streak symptoms induced by PVY. © National Institute of Agricultural Botany, Cambridge, UK, used with permission.
Figure 5. Tomato plants infected with Tomato yellow leaf curl virus.
Figure 6. Symptoms of PPV on apricot fruits. © Dr. M. Cambra, IVIA, Spain, used with permission.
Figure 7. Negative staining of Citrus tristeza virus. Bar = 100 nm.
Figure 8. Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) – rigid rod shaped, bar = 300 nm
Figure 9. Filamentous particles of Potato virus Y. 740 nm long.


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Further Reading

Brunt AA, Crabtree K, Dallwitz MJ, Gibbs AJ and Watson L (1996) Viruses of Plants, Descriptions and Lists from the VIDE Database. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.

Hull R (2013) Plant Virology, 5th edn. Academic Press.

Loebenstein G and Thottappilly G (2004) Virus and Virus‐Like Diseases of Major Crops in Developing Countries. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Loebenstein G and Katis N (2014) Control of Plant Virus Diseases, Seed‐Propagated Crops. Vol. 90 (Advances in Virus Research). Burlington, VT: Academic Press.

Plumb R (2002) Plant Virus Vector Interactions. Vol. 36 (Advances in Botanical Research). Burlington, VT: Academic Press.

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How to Cite close
Loebenstein, Gad(Apr 2015) Viruses and Plant Disease. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000770.pub3]