plants were inoculated with cymbidium ringspot tombusvirus RNA synthesized , after which further passages were made by sap inoculation. During the third passage, low RNA species appeared which had the characteristics of deletion mutants of genomic RNA. Sequence analysis of several of these defective interfering RNAs suggested a possible evolution of smaller from larger molecules. Computer-generated secondary structures of sequences surrounding recombination sites were extensive and stable and these sites occurred in interior or hairpin loops, thus providing a possible explanation for discontinuous RNA transcription and the formation of deletions in genomic RNA.


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