Analysis by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of nucleic acid preparations, obtained from several varieties of grapevine by a procedure designed to isolate and purify viroids, revealed the presence of RNA species with some of the characteristic physical properties of viroids. Under non-denaturing conditions, a band with a mobility faster than that of citrus exocortis viroid (CEV) was detected, and under fully denaturing conditions two bands were observed, one co-migrating with the circular forms of CEV and a second migrating faster than the linear forms of this viroid. This RNA species did not hybridize with a cDNA probe to CEV. Some of the grapevine preparations were infective for , inducing symptoms similar to those caused by CEV, and the appearance of an RNA which had the same mobility as CEV in denaturing and non-denaturing electrophoretic systems and hybridized with cDNA to CEV. These results suggest that viroid-like and viroid RNAs can be recovered from grapevine, the former (with no detectable sequence homology to CEV) at a concentration sufficient to be observed as a physical entity in gels, and the latter (with close sequence homology to CEV) whose presence could only be revealed by bioassay. The possible involvement of these RNAs in some grapevine diseases of unknown aetiology is discussed.

Keyword(s): grapevine , viroid and viroid-like RNAs

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