A small RNA species with the structural and functional properties characteristic of viroids has been isolated from three different pear sources each of which induced symptoms of the pear blister canker (PBC) disease when indexed in the pear indicator A 20. A close association between this RNA and PBC disease was established, since two of the three studied sources were known to be affected by this malady only, and the viroid was not detected in healthy pear tissue. Moreover, the PBC-associated viroid (PBCVd) replicated when purified preparations were inoculated into cucumber and pear plants. PBCVd behaved in denaturing polyacrylamide gels as a circular RNA with a molecular size of approximately 315 nucleotide residues. Analysis by dot blot hybridization indicated that PBCVd shares similarities in sequence with peach latent mosaic viroid and hop stunt viroid, and to a lesser extent with apple scar skin viroid.


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