Electron microscopic analyses have revealed that the bottom (B) component of cowpea mosaic virus alone induces cytopathic structures in cowpea mesophyll protoplasts, similar to those induced by the complete virus [i.e. B plus middle (M) components]. This indicates that the development of such structures is not linked to accumulation of virus particles but to virus RNA replication and expression. When purified B component was inoculated to primary cowpea leaves, symptoms were not produced and B component RNA was incapable of spreading to surrounding cells. The results are discussed in terms of limits to the independence of B component RNA and of possible functions for M component RNA-encoded proteins.


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