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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

Viruses are intercellular parasites with a limited genome, and therefore dependent on the host cell for multiplication and proliferation. When viruses infect plants the usual response is formation of a mosaic symptom, considered to reflect perturbations in the chloroplasts. However, in some instances, plants remain symptomless. In either case, no cellular disruption is documented. This is in contrast to animal viruses, which shut off cellular protein synthesis, culminating in cellular disruption. Yet, generally, infection of plants by viruses results in reduction of plant size and yield. Since most plant virus infection is not accompanied by clear pathogenic damage, there sulting yield reduction caused by it remains an enigma. Most investigations of plant viruses are oriented towards preventing infection, with little attention to host pathogenic damage. However, a better understanding of plant and virus interactions may help explain the mode by which virus infection causes yield reduction. The scientific literature contains numerous examples of significant increases in yield following the removal of viruses from a crop plant. In the following discussion, we will present examples of the damage to plants caused by virus infection and try to relate those effects to physiological disorder, as well as present thoughts on possible avenues by which the database concerning effects of virus infection could been hanced.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Virology, Institute of Plant Protection, Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Center, P.O. Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel ; 2: Kansas State University, Agricultural Research Center—Hays, 1232 240th Avenue, Hays, Kansas 67601-9228, USA


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