We inoculated the leaves of turnip plants ( spp. cv. Just Right) with two cauliflower mosaic viruses (CaMVs) with different small mutations in a dispensable region of the viral genome, and followed the spread of the virus infection through the plant. Surprisingly, analysis of viral DNA in single primary chlorotic lesions revealed the presence of both mutants. In contrast, the secondary chlorotic lesions and systemically infected leaves contained virus molecules of either one or the other type only. Infection of plants with different ratios of the two reporter viruses showed that this ratio is not conserved during systemic virus spread. Infection with CaMV DNA in the form of heteroduplexes containing a single mismatched base pair, in which each strand carried a distinct diagnostic marker, provided us with evidence that the mismatch was subjected to a repair process in the host plant.


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