Plant Pathology Department


Date of this Version



Published in Ann. Rev. Phytopathol. 1988. 26:331-50.


The editors asked that I write a chapter on landmarks in plant virology, a topic that has been covered by several authors, for example by Henderson Smith (89), Bawden (9), Holmes (51), Markham (62), Harrison (44), Black (12), and Matthews (64). In 1 938, the first of these authors, Henderson Smith (89), divided his presidential address to the Society for Applied Biology between the control of plant-virus diseases and the nature of plant viruses. Progress since then has been much more rapid in the latter than in the former area. Henderson Smith could easily understand today's literature on losses, control, breeding for resistance, and vector relations. He would find new virus diseases and vectors, but the concepts would be familiar. However, he would be completely lost trying to read about the nature of virus particles. There he would find references to ssRNA, dsRNA, translation, transcription, reading frames, site-directed mutagenesis, sub genomic RNAs. genome-linked proteins, and many other terms and concepts that have appeared in the past few decades. Nor would he recognize the experimental techniques, for most of those now commonly used have been developed since 1938.