Viroids are the smallest autonomous infectious nucleic acids known so far. With a small circular RNA genome of about 250-400 nt, which apparently does not code for any protein, viroids replicate and move systemically in host plants. Since the discovery of the first viroid almost forty-five years ago, many different viroids have been isolated, characterized and, frequently, identified as the causal agents of plant diseases. The first viroid classification scheme was proposed in the early 1990s and adopted by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) a few years later. Here, the current viroid taxonomy scheme and the criteria for viroid species demarcation are discussed, highlighting the main taxonomic questions currently under consideration by the ICTV Viroid Study Group. The impact of correct taxonomic annotation of viroid sequence variants is also addressed, taking into consideration the increasing application of next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics for known and previously unrecognized viroids.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 1, 2014
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