A panel of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) generated against an admixture of 12 potyvirus isolates was used to compare and differentiate diverse potyviruses. Both native and denatured virions of strains of bean yellow mosaic (BYMV), potato virus Y, tobacco etch, pea seed-borne mosaic, iris severe mosaic, iris mild mosaic and asparagus virus-1 potyviruses were used as immunogen and as antigen for screening of the hybridoma cell lines. Thirty cell lines secreting potyvirus-specific antibodies reactive in indirect antigen-coated plate (ACP-) ELISA were selected for detailed analysis. All 30 MAbs reacted with at least one strain of BYMV; 11 MAbs reacted with between one and eight of the nine BYMV strains and an additional three MAbs reacted only with isolates within the BYMV subgroup (BYMV, pea mosaic virus and clover yellow vein virus). The remaining 16 MAbs reacted with a BYMV isolate and with at least one of the other 43 potyvirus isolates tested. MAb PTY 1 reacted with all 55 potyvirus isolates tested (representing at least 33 different and distinct aphid-transmissible potyviruses). The potyvirus cross-reactive MAbs generally gave higher reactivity values in ACP-ELISA with dissociated virus than with polyclonal antibody-trapped intact virions in triple antibody sandwich ELISA (i.e. were cryptotope-specific). The BYMV strain- and virus-specific MAbs reacted strongly with both types of antigens (i.e. were metatope-specific). At least 25 distinct epitopes (12 cryptotopes and 13 metatopes) could be identified from the MAb-antigen reactivity patterns. The distribution of these epitopes between virus isolates can be used to detect and differentiate potyviruses in infected plant extracts and to examine virus architectures. Some of these epitopes are shared by potyvirus isolates not previously shown to be serologically related. The broad spectrum-reacting MAb PTY 1 recognizes a cryptotope conserved on all of the aphid-transmissible potyviruses examined and should be a valuable tool for the detection and assay of these potyviruses.


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