Analysis of nucleic acids from grapevine tissues by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis demonstrated the presence of two bands of circular RNA. The smaller RNA contained about 300 nucleotide residues and was identified as hop stunt viroid by nucleotide sequencing. The larger RNA band was a mixture of species and contained similar amounts of two components, referred to as RNA 1a and RNA 1b, and in addition a trace amount of citrus exocortis viroid (CEV) which became detectable only after inoculation of the mixture to tomato. The identity of CEV was determined by probe hybridization and nucleotide sequencing. Both RNAs 1a and 1b are distinct from CEV and have estimated sizes larger than those of CEV and other viroids reported so far. RNA 1a preparations were infectious in cucumber and in tomato and the recovered viroid had unique properties. We have provisionally named this viroid Australian grapevine viroid. Evidence for the autonomous replication of RNA 1b was not obtained.


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