Seed transmission of an isolate of pea seed-borne mosaic virus (PSbMV) in several pea genotypes has been studied. Cross-pollination experiments showed that pollen transmission of PSbMV did not occur and accordingly, virus was not detected in pollen grains by ELISA or electron microscopy. Comparative studies between two pea cultivars, one with a high incidence of seed transmission and one with none, showed that PSbMV infected the floral tissues (sepals, petals, anther and carpel) of both cultivars, but was not detected in ovules prior to fertilization. Virus was detected equally well in seed coats of the progeny in both cultivars. Analysis of virus incidence and concentration in pea seeds of different developmental stages demonstrated that in the cultivar with a high incidence of seed transmission, PSbMV directly invaded immature embryos, multiplied in the embryonic tissues and persisted during seed maturation. In contrast, the cultivar without seed transmission did not show invasion of immature embryos by the virus; there was no evidence for virus multiplication or persistence during embryo development and seed maturation. Hence seed transmission of PSbMV resulted from direct invasion of immature pea embryos by the virus and the block to seed transmission in the nonpermissive cultivar probably occurred at this step.


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