Transgenic plants harboring various plant virus sequences have shown resistance to viral infections. An environmental risk associated with the use of these plants is the possibility of forming a novel virus by recombination between challenging viruses and transgenic viral mRNA. Two experiments were designed using tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) vectors and transgenic Nicotiana benthamiana to determine if recombinant viral RNA would be detectable. N. benthamiana was transformed with a nontranslatable portion of a TMV viral vector including part of the replicase gene, the movement protein gene, a gene for green fluorescent protein (GFP), and the coat protein gene. When transformed plants were inoculated with a TMV vector coat protein mutant which could not move efficiently through the host, recombinant RNA was detected in 32% of the infected plants, although virions were not detected. When transformed plants were infected with a TMV vector with a normal coat sequence but three base changes in the GFP sequence, no recombinant RNA or virions were detected. Thus, recombinant RNA between TMV RNA and host mRNA did not accumulate to detectable levels under nonselective conditions, and though recombinant RNA did accumulate in the presence of selective pressure, an encapsidated recombinant viral population did not develop.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 1, 2000
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