During 1970 and 1971, I discovered that a devastating disease of potato plants is not caused by a virus, as had been assumed, but by a new type of subviral pathogen, the viroid. Viroids are so small — one fiftieth of the size of the smallest viruses — that many scientists initially doubted their existence. We now know that viroids cause many damaging diseases of crop plants. Fortunately, new methods that are based on the unique properties of viroids now promise effective control.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Open Access articles citing this article.
Scientific Reports Open Access 06 July 2018
Interference between variants of peach latent mosaic viroid reveals novel features of its fitness landscape: implications for detection
Scientific Reports Open Access 17 February 2017
Subscribe to this journal
Receive 12 print issues and online access
$209.00 per year
only $17.42 per issue
Rent or buy this article
Prices vary by article type
Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout
Avery, O. T., MacLeod, C. M. & McCarty, M. Studies of the chemical nature of the substance inducing transformation of pneumococcal types. Induction of transformation by a desoxyribonucleic acid fraction isolated from Pneumococcus type III. J. Exp. Med. 79, 137–158 (1944).
Beijerinck, M. W. Ueber ein Contagium vivum fluidum als Ursache der Fleckenkrankheit der Tabaksblätter. Verh. Kon. Akad. Wetensch. VI, 3–21 (1898).
Brakke, M. K. Density-gradient centrifugation: A new separation technique. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 73, 1847–1848 (1951).
Diener, T. O. & Raymer, W. B. Potato spindle tuber virus: a plant virus with properties of a free nucleic acid. Science 158, 378–381 (1967).
Brakke, M. K. Systemic infections for the assay of plant viruses. Ann. Rev Phytopathol. 8, 61–84 (1970).
Diener, T. O. Viroids. Adv. Virus Res. 17, 295–313 (1972).
Diener, T. O. Potato spindle tuber “virus”. IV. A replicating, low-molecular weight RNA. Virology 45, 411–428 (1971).
Lawson, R. H. Some properties of chrysanthemum stunt virus. Phytopathology 58, 885 (1968).
Semancik, J. S. & Weathers, L. G. Exocortis virus of Citrus: association of infectivity with nucleic acid preparations. Virology 36, 326–328 (1968).
Sänger, H. L. An infectious and replicating RNA of low molecular weight: The agent of the exocortis disease of Citrus. Adv. Biosc. 8, 103–116 (1972).
Diener, T. O. Potato spindle tuber viroid. VIII. Correlation of infectivity with a UV-absorbing component and thermal denaturation properties of the RNA. Virology 50, 606–609 (1972).
Flores, R., Randles, J. W., Bar-Joseph, M. & Diener, T. O. Viroids. in Virus Taxonomy, Seventh Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (eds van Regenmortel, M. H. V. et al.) 1009–1024 (Academic Press, San Diego, 2000).
Flores, R., Daròs, J. A. & Hernández, C. Avsunviroidae family: viroids containing hammerhead ribozymes. Adv. Virus Res. 55, 271–323 (2000).
Keese, P. & Symons, R. H. Domains in viroids: Evidence of intermolecular RNA rearrangements and their contribution to viroid evolution. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 82, 4582–4586 (1985).
Branch, A. D., Robertson, H. D. & Dickson, E. Longer-than unit length viroid minus strands are present in RNA from infected plants. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 78, 6381–6385 (1981).
Owens, R. A. & Diener, T. O. RNA intermediates in potato spindle tuber viroid replication. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 79, 113–117 (1982).
Tsagris, M., Tabler, M., Mühlbach, H. P. & Sänger, H. L. Linear oligomeric potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTV) RNAs are accurately processed in vitro to the monomeric circular viroid proper when incubated with a nuclear extract from healthy potato cells. EMBO J. 6, 2173–2183 (1987).
Gross, H. J. et al. A severe and a mild potato spindle tuber viroid isolate differ in three nucleotide exchanges only. Biosci. Rep. 1, 235–241 (1981).
Sano, T., Candresse, T., Hammond, R. W., Diener, T. O. & Owens, R. A. Identification of multiple structural domains regulating viroid pathogenicity. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 89, 10104–10108 (1992).
Qi, Y. & Ding, B. Inhibition of cell growth and shoot development by a specific nucleotide sequence in a noncoding viroid RNA. The Plant Cell 15, 1360–1374 (2003).
Diener, T. O. The viroid: Biological oddity or evolutionary fossil? Adv. Virus Res. 57, 137–184 (2001).
Diener, T. O. Circular RNAs: Relics of precellular evolution? Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA. 86, 9370–9374 (1989).
Sharp, P. A. On the origin of RNA splicing and introns. Cell 42, 397–400 (1985).
Paul, N. & Joyce, G. F. A self-replicating ligase ribozyme. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 99, 12733–12740 (2000).
Owens, R. A. & Diener, T. O. Sensitive and rapid diagnosis of potato spindle tuber viroid disease by nucleic acid hybridization. Science 213, 670–672 (1981).
Yang, X. et al. Ribozyme-mediated high resistance against potato spindle tuber viroid in transgenic potatoes. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 94, 4861–4865 (1997).
Sano, T., Nagayama, A., Ogawa, T., Ishida, I. & Okada, Y. Transgenic potato expressing a double-stranded RNA-specific ribonuclease is resistant to potato spindle tuber viroid. Nature Biotechol. 15, 1290–1294 (1997).
Sänger, H. L. & Brandenburg, E. Ueber die Gewinnung von infektiösem Presssaft aus “Wintertyp”-Pflanzen des Tabak-Rattle–Virus durch Phenolextraktion. Naturwiss. 48, 391 (1961).
Siegel, A., Zaitlin, M. & Sehgal, O. P. The isolation of defective tobacco mosaic virus strains. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 48, 1845–1851 (1962).
Diener, T. O. Isolation of an infectious, ribonuclease-sensitive fraction from tobacco leaves recently inoculated with tobacco mosaic virus. Virology 16, 140–146 (1962).
Schneider, I. R. Characteristics of a satellite-like virus of tobacco ringspot virus. Virology 45, 108–122 (1971).
Diener, T. O. Potato spindle tuber virus: A plant virus with properties of a free nucleic acid. III. Subcellular location of PSTV-RNA and the question of whether virions exist in extracts or in situ. Virology 43, 75–89 (1971).
Sogo, J. M., Koller, T. & Diener, T. O. Potato spindle tuber viroid. X. Visualization and size determination by electron microscopy. Virology 55, 70–80 (1973).
Davies, J. W., Kaesberg, P. & Diener, T. O. Potato spindle tuber viroid. XII. An investigation of viroid RNA as a messenger for protein synthesis. Virology 61, 281–286 (1974).
Hall, T. C., Wepprich, R. K., Davies, J. W., Weathers, L. G. & Semancik, J. S. Functional distinctions between the ribonucleic acids from citrus exocortis viroid and plant viruses: Cell-free translation and aminoacylation reactions. Virology 61, 486–492 (1974).
Sänger, H L., Klotz, G., Riesner, D., Gross, H. J. & Kleinschmidt, A. K. Viroids are single-stranded covalently closed circular RNA molecules existing as highly base-paired rod-like structures. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 73, 3852–3856 (1976).
McClements, W. L. & Kaesberg, P. Size and secondary structure of potato spindle tuber viroid. Virology 76, 477–484 (1977).
Gross, H. J. et al. Nucleotide sequence and secondary structure of potato spindle tuber viroid. Nature 273, 203–208 (1978).
Diener, T. O. The viroid — a subviral pathogen. Am. Sci. 71, 481–489 (1983).
Malfitano, M. et al. Peach latent mosaic viroid variants inducing peach calico (extreme chlorosis) contain a characteristic insertion that is responsible for this symptomatology. Virology (in the press).
- LOCAL LESION ASSAY
A technique to estimate the relative virus or viroid concentration, which involves rubbing variously diluted aliquots of a preparation onto leaves of a hypersensitive host plant that reacts to infection with the production of visible chlorotic or necrotic spots, the number of which is directly related to the virus or viroid concentration.
A pathogen that exists in vivo as an unencapsidated nucleic acid. The nucleic acid is a single molecular species RNA.
About this article
Cite this article
Diener, T. Discovering viroids — a personal perspective. Nat Rev Microbiol 1, 75–80 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro736