Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) genomic DNA can be detected by Southern blot analysis in nucleic acid extracted from a single whitefly. Acquisition of TYLCV by individual whiteflies in relation to the length of the access period, the virus concentration in, and the developmental stage of plant tissues was studied. The frequency of TYLCV detection increased with the length of the access period; DNA was detected in 15% of whiteflies tested after a period of access to infected tissue of 30 min, regardless of whether it had a high or a low virus content (5 ng or 0·05 ng TYLCV DNA/µg plant chromosomal DNA), and in all insects tested after an 8 h period of access to all the plants. Those insects which had access to the youngest leaves of source plants, which have a high virus content, acquired detectable TYLCV DNA within 2 h. Insects which had access to a tissue for the same period acquired variable amounts of TYLCV DNA; insects feeding on plants with a low virus concentration acquired amounts of viral DNA comparable to those acquired by insects feeding on plants containing a 100-fold greater concentration of virus. Viruliferous insects retained TYLCV DNA for at least 13 days when placed on uninfected tomato plants. In these tests, whitefly could not acquire more than 600 million virus genomes (1 ng viral DNA), suggesting the existence of factors controlling the number of virions present in an insect.


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