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Ilarviruses of Prunus spp.: A Continued Concern for Fruit Trees

December 2012 , Volume 102 , Number  12
Pages  1,108 - 1,120

V. Pallas, F. Aparicio, M. C. Herranz, K. Amari, M. A. Sanchez-Pina, A. Myrta, and J. A. Sanchez-Navarro

First, second, third, and seventh authors: Instituto de Biología Celular y Molecular de Plantas, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Avda. de los Naranjos s/n. 46022 Valencia, Spain; fourth and fifth authors: Dpto. de Biología del Estrés y Patología Vegetal, CEBAS-CSIC, Campus Universitario de Espinardo, P.O. Box 164, 30010 Espinardo-Murcia, Spain; and sixth author: Certis Europe B.V. Via Josèmaria Escrivà de Balaguer 6, 21047 Saronno (VA), Italy.

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Accepted for publication 17 July 2012.

Prunus spp. are affected by a large number of viruses, causing significant economic losses through either direct or indirect damage, which results in reduced yield and fruit quality. Among these viruses, members of the genus Ilarvirus (isometric labile ringspot viruses) occupy a significant position due to their distribution worldwide. Although symptoms caused by these types of viruses were reported early in the last century, their molecular characterization was not achieved until the 1990s, much later than for other agronomically relevant viruses. This was mainly due to the characteristic liability of virus particles in tissue extracts. In addition, ilarviruses, together with Alfalfa mosaic virus, are unique among plant viruses in that they require a few molecules of the coat protein in the inoculum in order to be infectious, a phenomenon known as genome activation. Another factor that has made the study of this group of viruses difficult is that infectious clones have been obtained only for the type member of the genus, Tobacco streak virus. Four ilarviruses, Prunus necrotic ringspot virus, Prune dwarf virus, Apple mosaic virus, and American plum line pattern virus, are pathogens of the main cultivated fruit trees. As stated in the 9th Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, virions of this genus are “unpromising subjects for the raising of good antisera.” With the advent of molecular approaches for their detection and characterization, it has been possible to get a more precise view of their prevalence and genome organization. This review updates our knowledge on the incidence, genome organization and expression, genetic diversity, modes of transmission, and diagnosis, as well as control of this peculiar group of viruses affecting fruit trees.

Additional keywords: genome activation, genome expression, seed transmission.

© 2012 The American Phytopathological Society